In 2015, following a terrorist attack at the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, Geller organized an event dubbed “Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Texas. The winner of the contest was promised a $10,000 prize.
Many Muslims consider depictions of Muhammad to be blasphemous. The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged supporters to ignore the event.
“The thing [Geller] hates most is being ignored,” a CAIR spokesman said at the time.
According to The Washington Post, two gunmen came to the event and opened fire on a security guard. Police fatally shot both. The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, although officials said at the time the gunmen were inspired by the group rather than taking direction from them.
The Post added that it was around the time of that event that the Islamic State called for Geller’s murder. David Wright and two accomplices reportedly volunteered to do so.
Prosecutors said that after communicating with a member of the Islamic State, Wright, his uncle, and a friend met on a Rhode Island beach to plot ways to behead Geller. The plan was never carried out.
Wright's uncle, Ussamah Rahim, later told Wright he wanted to target police instead. Rahim was fatally shot after an attempt to stab authorities in Boston. The FBI had been monitoring Rahim, the Post reported, and had “an easy trail of evidence” to Wright.
According to the Associated Press, Wright, 28, said in a Boston courtroom: "Nothing I can say can fix the hurt I caused."
"I sincerely hope that I can be given the opportunity to help others avoid the mistakes I made," he said.
Geller said in a victim impact statement that it is “impossible to overstate the devastation” Wright caused her and members of her family.
“Not only did he target me for a brutal, cruel and violent death, but he targeted family members, and this will not even be over with his sentencing,” said Geller, who is from New York.
According to the AP, Judge William G. Young declined to issue a life sentence for Wright, telling him: "You are not a monster, yet you embraced a monstrous evil."