White House press secretary Josh Earnest called Sunday's shooting in Garland, Texas, an "attempted terrorist attack," though said it's too early to say whether it was tied to the Islamic State.
The militant group claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday, but Earnest said the matter is still under investigation by the FBI and the intelligence community "to determine any ties or affiliations that these two individuals may have had with ISIL or other terrorist organizations." The two gunmen, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, opened fire outside a building hosting a Muhammad cartoon contest when they were both fatally shot by a security officer.
"The thing that we can say definitively is that because of the quick and professional and brave work of local law enforcement officers, an attempted terrorist attack was foiled. That certainly was a testament to the courage and the professionalism of those public servants who were there to keep the peace," Earnest said.
The Obama administration has previously been accused of being reluctant to describe previous incidents as "terrorism."
A radio message from the Islamic State on Tuesday declared: “We tell America that what is coming is more bitter and harder and you will see from the soldiers of the caliphate what harms you.”
Earnest said the federal government will need more information before it believes that the Sunni militant group is in America.
"Before we made a pronouncement about anything like that, we’d like to know the facts," Earnest said. "What we do know is that there are extremists around the globe who are trying to capitalize on the opportunity presented by social media to try and communicate with individuals around the world including inside the United States. There have been a number of individuals, Americans, who have been apprehended by law enforcement who were attempting to travel to the Middle East. That is at least an indication of their commitment to ISIL and the extremist's world. We are very vigilant about efforts that are underway by ISIL and other extremists organizations to try to radicalize some individuals in the United States."