PHOENIX, Ariz. — A Muslim man from Arizona who is accused of aiding in a plot to attack a Mohammed drawing contest in Texas, as well as conspiring with friends about other potential attacks on the United States, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
“The sentencing of Kareem is significant and sends a strong message to those who support terrorism,” Michael DeLeon, special agent in charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office, said in a statement released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice. “Unfortunately, some people who do not believe in the American way of life are plotting to do us harm. The protection of U.S. citizens and our communities remains the FBI’s number one priority.”
As previously reported, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, now 45, had been charged in 2015 after investigators believed that he helped to plan the attack on the Garland drawing contest, along with Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi—all three being from the Phoenix area.
Simpson and Soofi traveled to Texas in May 2015 to attack the event, driving up to the Curtis Culwell Center near the end of the gathering and began shooting at a security officer. Police officers who were on duty for extra security then returned the gunfire with the suspects, fatally wounding them.
Kareem was arrested after being connected to the incident as it was believed that he helped to plan the assault, provided the weapons carried by the men, and went with Simpson and Soofi to shooting practice to prepare for the attack. He was charged with conspiracy, interstate transportation of firearms, false statements, and felony possession of firearms.
The false statements charge relates to allegations that he lied to investigators in denying that he had prior knowledge about the plotted Garland attack.
A federal grand jury later added a new charge of conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization as it was additionally alleged that Kareem, as well as Simpson and Soofi, had supported ISIS. The indictment said that Simpson and Soofi were carrying a printout of the Islamic State flag at the time of the Texas attack.
According to reports, Kareen had researched travel to the Middle East to fight with the terror organization and encouraged Simpson and Soofi to carry out attacks in the U.S. as retribution for military action against ISIS .
Prosecutors also accused Kareem of watching and sharing jihadist videos, as well as seeking information about how to obtain pipe bombs to attack Westgate Mall and the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale during the 2015 Super Bowl. The three are additionally stated to have scoped out military installations for potential attacks.
He was declared guilty of all charges in March 2016.
“Today’s sentence, in the country’s first trial involving a homeland terrorist attack committed in the name of ISIL, demonstrates the commitment of the United States to hold accountable any person who participates in or aids in any way acts of terrorism against our citizens,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Strange in a statement following Wednesday’s sentencing.
She praised law enforcement for acting swiftly to stop the Garland attack, and thanked federal prosecutors for their work to seek justice in the matter.