- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2016

The man who opened fire on a Philadelphia police officer as he sat in his marked cruiser Thursday night proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State terror group after he was taken into custody and used a stolen police gun in the ambush, officials said Friday.

“He has confessed to committing this cowardly act in the name of Islam,” Philadelphia Police Commission Richard Ross said. “According to him, he believes the police defend laws that are contrary to the teachings of the Koran.”

Commissioner Ross said during a news conference that investigators were serving search warrants Friday at homes where the 30-year-old suspect, Edward Archer of Yeadon, has stayed in the past in order to gather evidence about the shooting, including whether he has any legitimate ties to the Islamic State.

Officer Jessie Hartnett was struck three times in the arm by gunfire Thursday night after the man ran up to his police cruiser and opened fire in a dramatic ambush that was caught on a surveillance camera.

Officials said the suspect fired 13 times — at one point with his arm all the way inside the police cruiser. Officer Hartnett was able to chase after the man, firing off several rounds that struck the suspect, and the man was later taken into custody by responding officers.

Officer Hartnett was described as awake and alert but expected to undergo several surgeries for his injuries.

Philadelphia police Homicide Capt. James Clark said that after the suspect was taken into custody, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State multiple times.

“He just kept on echoing those sentiments, and he wouldn’t say anything more than that,” Capt. Clark said.

Officials played clips of the surveillance video at Friday’s press conference, which showed Mr. Archer wearing a white robe and firing as he crossed the street toward Officer Hartnett’s cruiser. Commissioner Ross said he could not say whether Mr. Archer’s attire was “Muslim clothing.”

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney spoke with the commissioner at the news conference, saying, “In no way, shape or form does anyone in this room believe that Islam or the teaching of Islam have anything to do with what you’ve seen on this screen.”

Commissioner Ross also disclosed that the weapon used by the suspect was stolen from the home of a Philadelphia police officer in 2013. It was unclear how the suspect obtained the weapon.

While investigators were probing whether Mr. Archer — who officials said has a criminal record including a gun offense and domestic violence — had any connections with the Islamic State or had been in connection with terrorists, politicians seized on the news as a warning to remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism.

“I know federal investigators will be promptly working to determine what, if any, connections the suspect had with overseas radical groups and whether there’s any indication of future attacks in the works,” said Rep. Patrick Meehan, Pennsylvania Republican. “It’s a grim reminder of the need for constant vigilance as we work to defeat the Islamic State worldwide.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce expressed similar concern.

“ISIS cannot be contained, it must be defeated,” the California Republican said, referring to the Islamic State by an acronym. “To keep Americans safe from an increasingly sophisticated enemy, we need to eliminate sanctuaries and counter ISIS’s ability to recruit and radicalize on the Internet.”

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