Garland Shooting: Inside the Group Hosting the 'Draw the Prophet' Event

Two men allegedly drove up to the building and "opened fire" before being shot.

ByABC News
May 4, 2015, 9:54 AM

— -- The conference where attendees displayed drawings of the Prophet Mohammed on Sunday night -- the same place where two alleged would-be shooters were fatally shot by police after opening fire -- was put together by a group that claims to want to shed a spotlight on terrorism, although others consider the organization to be anti-Muslim.

The event was titled The Inaugural Mohammad Art Exhibit & Contest and was hosted by the American Freedom Defense Institute. The group was incorporated as a nonprofit in 2010, listing itself as "an educational organization designed to defend Constitutional principles against academic, cultural, sociological, and other attacks upon them," according to the group's incorporation documents.

The group has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks and classifies hate groups.

Although Islam is not explicitly mentioned in the incorporation documents, it is a subject that has been the main focus of the group's five founders, which includes Pamela Geller, a New York-based activist who has been involved in a number of movements to curb what she describes as the Islamization of America.

Geller has been involved with other anti-Islam debates in the past, and gained national publicity in 2010 when she led the charge against the creation of a mosque near the Ground Zero site in New York city.

She was just one of the headliners at the event who has a connection to anti-Islam movements. Dutch politician Geert Wilders was listed as a scheduled speaker and he is known to have tried to campaign to ban the Quran in the Netherlands.

Wilders was highlighted as a speaker on a widely-circulated poster the group put out as one of the top nine people wanted for “crimes against Islam,” along with Terry Jones, the Florida pastor known for wanting to burn a Quran, and Stephane Charbonnier, the now-deceased editor of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In Islam, any drawings or depictions of Mohammed are considered offensive.

There were heightened security concerns about the Texas event -- the group hired extra security -- and the shooting comes after the January attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, where 12 people were killed.

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