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Joiner v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 10, 2020

BRUCE JOINER, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant-Appellee

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas

          Before WIENER, HIGGINSON, and HO, Circuit Judges.

          JAMES C. HO, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         The district court dismissed this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act. It also precluded additional discovery. We affirm.

         I.

         On May 3, 2015, Bruce Joiner was on duty as a security guard for the "First Annual Muhammed Art Exhibit and Contest" in Garland, Texas. That day, a pair of Islamic terrorists-Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi-attacked the event site and shot Joiner in the leg.

         Both Simpson and Soofi were subjects of an ongoing FBI investigation at the time of the shooting. As early as 2007, Simpson, an Arizona citizen, was flagged for potential terrorist sympathies. By 2010, Simpson became friendly with Soofi, a fellow mosque member. Around this time, Soofi attempted to purchase a handgun from the Lone Wolf Trading Company in Arizona. The Lone Wolf store was part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' "Fast and Furious" gunwalking operation, where federal agents would sell firearms to unauthorized buyers in hopes of tracing them back to the Mexican cartel. A background check identified Soofi as possibly being ineligible to purchase a firearm, and a seven-day hold was initially placed on the sale. It was lifted after twenty-four hours, at which point Soofi bought the gun.

         On January 7, 2015, terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda attacked the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in retaliation for the magazine's publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. Ten days later, an Islamic group held a conference at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, called "Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect." The conference featured criticism of those who published likenesses of Muhammad. In response, another organization planned a "Draw the Prophet" event, also to be held in Garland.

         Simpson denounced the "Draw the Prophet" event in a Twitter exchange with Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, an ISIS leader in Somalia. Simpson tweeted, "When will they ever learn," and Hassan responded, "The brothers from the Charlie Hebdo attack did their part. It's time for brothers in the #US to do their part."

         At this point, Erick Jamal Hendricks, a South Carolina man, contacted Simpson via Twitter. Hendricks had been working to establish an ISIS cell in the United States and was being investigated by and in communication with an undercover FBI agent known as UCE-1. UCE-1 initially contacted Hendricks on social media, posing as a Muslim interested in joining ISIS. After vetting UCE-1, Hendricks asked for his help recruiting members for a domestic terror group. UCE-1 contacted Simpson on April 23, 2015, at Hendricks' instruction. The next day, Simpson and UCE-1 had the following conversation over social media:

UCE-1: Tear up Texas.
Simpson: Bro, u don't have to say that . . . U know what happened in Paris . . . I think . . . Yes or no . . . ?
UCE-1: Right.
Simpson: So that goes without saying . . . No need to be ...

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