Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, 43, was indicted by a grand jury in June 2015 on charges of conspiracy, lying to federal agents and interstate transportation of firearms with intent to commit a felony, court documents show. Abdul Kareem pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance, The Arizona Republic reports.
He was found guilty on March 17, 2016, the Associated Press reports.
A shootout with police outside the May 3 event left the two gunmen, Phoenix roommates Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, dead. The FBI says Simpson and Soofi plotted the Garland attack, which was inspired by ISIS, along with Abdul Kareem, and practiced shooting with him. Abdul Kareem is accused of providing the two assault weapons used in the attack to Simpson and Soofi.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Prosecutors Say He Considered a Terror Attack on the Super Bowl
Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem discussed attacking the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, in February, NBC 12 reports.
Prosecutors said during a court hearing that Abdul Kareem became interested in an attack on United States soil after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris in January. Abdul Kareem considered the Super Bowl as his target, an informant told the FBI, according to NBC 12.
According to the indictment in Abdul Kareem’s case, the target shifted to the Muhammad art exhibit in Garland, Texas, after the event was announced on February 11. The FBI claims Abdul KAreem, Simpson and Soofi, along with others “known and unknown to the grand jury,” began plotting to disrupt the contest.
Simpson and Soofi “drove toward the Curtis Culwell Center, stopped their car, got out, and began shooting with assault rifles at security personnel and law enforcement. The security guard was sturck by a bullet and injured, and Simpson and Soofi were shot and killed by police officers,” according to the indictment, which can be read below.
Between January 7 and May 3, Kareem, Simpson and Soofi “traveled to remote desert areas near Phoenix, Arizona, to practice shooting firearms,” the FBI alleges. Kareem provided the firearms to Simpson and Soofi during that time period.
Kareem is also accused of hosting Simpson, Soofi and others at his home to discuss the contest and their plan to travel from Phoenix to Texas to carry out the attack. The FBI says Kareem transported firearms and ammunition in interstate commerce between May 1 and May 3, prior to the attack.
The FBI also alleges that Kareem lied to agents during an interview on May 5 in Phoenix. According to the indictment, Kareem said he didn’t go shooting in the desert with Simpson and Soofi, that the two gunmen had never fired the weapons they used in the attack prior to the shootout, that Simpson and Soofi didn’t ask him to participate in an attack prior to May 3, that he didn’t know in advance that the roommates planned the attack and that he didn’t know about the Muhammad art contest before the attack. The FBI claims those were all false statements.
2. The U.S. Attorney Says Abdul Kareem Is ‘Off the Charts Dangerous’
A judge ordered Abdul Kareem to be held in custody without bail after a 90-minute hearing on Tuesday.
“This defendant is dangerous. He is off-the-charts dangerous,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Brook said, according to The Arizona Republic. “This was an attempted mass murder.”
3. His Attorney Says the Case Is ‘All Smoke & Mirrors’
During Tuesday’s court appearance, Abdul Kareem’s attorney, Dan Maynard, told the judge that the FBI has no case.
“This case is all smoke and mirrors, based on confidential source that is not reliable at all,” Maynard said, according to The Arizona Republic. “This is a typical, typical jailhouse snitch.”
Maynard said the informant has been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, kidnapping and sex trafficking. He questioned whether the FBI took any steps to verify the claims, and said Abdul Kareem volunteered to be interviewed by the FBI on May 6, and didn’t flee or seek weapons after that.
“The government has tried its best to frighten everyone that this is a violent man,” Maynard said, the newspaper reports. “He is a normal citizen who just happens to believe in a different faith than most of us.”
“Everybody wants him to be a bogeyman,” Maynard told the judge.
4. He Was Raised in Philadelphia & Changed His Name in 2013 After Converting to Islam
Abdul Kareem is also known as Decarus Thomas, court documents show. The Philadelphia native changed in his name in 2013 after converting to Islam, The Arizona Republic reports.
Court records show he has convictions for felony disorderly conduct and driving under the influence. Abdul Kareem owned a Phoenix cleaning and moving service, The Republic reports. His attorney said during the court hearing that his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after he was shot in the back during a robbery.
During the hearing, a FBI agent testified that the agency had searched Abdul Kareem’s home in 2012 and seized a computer. It was later returned. Details of that investigation were not released.
5. The ‘Draw Muhammad’ Contest’s Organizer Pamela Geller Has Been the Target of Other Terror Plots
The Phoenix gunmen and Abdul Kareem were inspired by the terror group ISIS to attack the Garland, Texas, event, which was organized by Pamela Geller, prosecutors say. Geller, the controversial political activist and a vocal opponent of the “Islamization” of America, was also recently targeted by an alleged terrorist in Boston, according to reports.
An ISIS fighter also recently tweeted out Geller’s home address, according to Fox News. Geller responded that she “won’t be intimidated into silence.”