WASHINGTON — Since at least 2007, the FBI has been able to recognize the voice of Elton Simpson — one of the men suspected in the Texas shootings outside a contest featuring cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
Agents heard the young man from Phoenix talk about fighting nonbelievers for Allah. About plans to travel to South Africa and link up with “brothers” in Somalia. About using school as a cover story for traveling overseas.
Simpson was arrested in 2010, one day before authorities say he planned to leave for South Africa. But despite more than 1,500 hours of recorded conversations, the government prosecuted him on only one minor charge — lying to a federal agent. Years spent investigating Simpson for terrorism ties resulted in three years of probation. He also was ordered to pay $600 in fines and court fees. Then, on Sunday, two men whom authorities identified as Simpson and Nadir Soofi opened fire in a Dallas suburb on a security officer stationed outside the contest.