The FBI has confirmed what Judicial Watch reported last week, that the Ft. Lauderdale Airport shooter has ties to radical Islam and carried out the attack on behalf of a terrorist group. During a bond hearing in a south Florida federal court this week, an FBI special agent testified that the shooter, Esteban Santiago, communicated with Islamic terrorists in “jihadi chat rooms” and committed the massacre on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Santiago killed five people and wounded six others during the bloody rampage in the baggage claim area of the Ft. Lauderdale Airport earlier this month. Authorities immediately attributed the attack to mental illness, saying that Santiago was a Hispanic Army veteran that became unhinged after a tour in Iraq. Santiago has been charged with an act of violence at an international airport, which could get him a death sentence. According to the federal complaint, Santiago fired 10 to 15 rounds of ammunition from his firearm, aiming at his victims’ heads and walking while shooting in a methodical manner. At this week’s bond hearing, FBI special agent Michael Ferlazzo testified that Santiago said he was fighting for ISIS and had been in touch with other terrorists who were planning attacks in jihadi internet chat rooms. The judge ruled that Santiago be held without bond and his next court appearance is scheduled for January 30.
Last week Judicial Watch ignited a ruckus after revealing that Santiago is a Muslim convert who years before joining the U.S. Army took on an Islamic name (Aashiq Hammad), downloaded terrorist propaganda and recorded Islamic religious music online. The Obama administration’s efforts to keep the pertinent information quiet in the aftermath of the shooting brought up memories of the Benghazi cover up, in which the president and his cohorts knowingly lied to conceal that Islamic terrorists attacked the U.S. Special Mission in Libya. In the Ft. Lauderdale attack the traditional mainstream media coverage promoted the government rhetoric that omitted any ties to terrorism even though early on a photo surfaced of Santiago making an ISIS salute while wearing a keffiyeh, a Palestinian Arab scarf.
Records uncovered in the days after the massacre suggest Santiago (Hammad) is a radical Islamic terrorist that’s seriously committed to Islam. Besides taking on a Muslim name, he recorded three Islamic religious songs, including the Muslim declaration faith (“there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”) known as the Shahada. He also posted a thread about downloading propaganda videos from Islamic terrorists on a weapons and explosives forum. The investigative news site that unearthed this disturbing information connected the dots between Santiago, who is of Puerto Rican descent, and Hammad, an identity he created in 2007.
It’s still not clear why Santiago chose Ft. Lauderdale, out of all the nation’s airports, to carry out his attack. The facility is situated in Broward County, which has a large and growing Islamic community and questions remain involving who Santiago knows in the area. In 2015 Judicial Watch obtained records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) that show an Al Qaeda terrorist who helped plan several U.S. attacks lived in Broward County and graduated from the local community college with a degree in computer engineering. His name is Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, but he also has a Hispanic identity, Javier Robles, and for years he appeared on the FBI’s most wanted list. Back in 2012 Judicial Watch reported on a terrorist front group’s demands that Broward County public schools close twice a year to celebrate Islamic holy days, illustrating the influence that Muslims have in the region.