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Man Charged Over Attack on Anti-Muslim Event

  • VOA News

This undated law enforcement booking photo from the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff's Department shows Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem.

This undated law enforcement booking photo from the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff's Department shows Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem.

A man accused of helping plan an attack on an event in Texas that featured cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet Muhammad last month appeared in a federal courtroom Tuesday.

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem was arrested last week in Phoenix, Arizona. According to court documents, Kareem hosted the two gunmen, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, at his home beginning in January and discussed carrying out the attack. He was charged with providing the weapons that Simpson and Soofi used in the attack, as well as conspiracy and lying to federal agents.

Simpson and Soofi, who shared an apartment in Phoenix, drove to Garland, Texas and opened fire on a community center where a contest was being held for cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet. The two men wounded a security guard before they were shot and killed by Garland police officers.

During Tuesday's hearing, an FBI agent testified that Kareem wanted to join the Islamic State terrorist organization and carry out an attack on the National Football League's Super Bowl championship game, which was held in Arizona back in February.

Kareem has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The judge ordered Kareem to be held in jail without bail.

The cartoon contest was sponsored by a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which offered a $10,000 prize for winner. The group has been designated as an "anti-Muslim extremist" organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which maintains data on hate groups in the United States.

Many Muslims find depictions of the Prophet Muhammad to be insulting to Islam. Prosecutors say Kareem got the idea for the attack on the event in Texas from the fatal terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had featured multiple cartoons depicting Muhammad.

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