Another event guised with “freedom of speech” but laced with controversy, another group of extremist terror sympathisers, another attack that increases societal division – the Texas Shooting, as it is being called, may not have been a tragedy of great proportions; but that does not mean that the underlying issues are any less important. Their frequency and global proliferation is an alarming trend, the blame for which rest with both sides of the coin; who, despite their polar differences, display similar extreme views.

Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, the two people who attacked the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas – which in addition to the Muhammad cartoon drawing contest was also hosting right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders who was placed on an al Qaeda hit list for his film “Fitna – are not prima facie affiliated with any terrorist organization. Despite of the fact that Elton Simpson was on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) monitoring list, having been convicted in 2011 for making false statements regarding terrorism and national security, and Nadir Soofi is of Pakistani decent, and spent a couple years of his early childhood years in Islamabad; they appear to be average Americans who sympathised with ISIS through activity on their social media accounts. They declared allegiance to the group minutes before the attack, and ISIS online propagandists picked up the incident after the fact. This attack is similar to the Sydney cafe siege earlier this year, where a lone gunman held a cafe hostage and declared allegiance to Al-Bagdadi, during the act. This new trend of home-grown extremists adds a new dimension to the global terrorism problem; yet it has more to do with the host nation’s domestic policies than it does with organised militant groups.

What prompts people with no immediate political motivation to pick up arms in an act that leads to certain death? In this case it is a mixture of radical upbringing, isolation from wider society and perceived grievous offences. Groups like the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), which organised the event, are responsible for a significant portion of the causes that prompt such attacks. The AFDI has been called a ‘hate-group’ by monitoring bodies in the U.S for demonising Islam and it’s followers, preaching drastic reforms that aim to ‘cleanse’ America from Islamisation, and holding events specifically designed to offend Muslims. It is because of groups like these – which can be found in most western countries – that resident Muslims feel isolated, targeted and discriminated against, forcing them to retreat into their own cultures rather than embracing the West’s. The actions of the two shooters are condemnable, but until the distinction between free speech and hate speech remains blurred, and provocation is knowingly given, such attacks will continue to happen.