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American IS Sympathizer Draws Prison Term for Plotting Attack on Cartoonists

  • VOA News

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

An Islamic State sympathizer was sentenced Wednesday in a Phoenix courtroom to 30 years in prison for terror-related crimes, including an attack on a cartoon contest in Texas satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.

U.S.-born Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem was convicted last year on charges that included planning to provide material support to Islamic State, transporting guns with the intent to murder and lying to the FBI.

Kareem, 45, an Arizona resident who converted to Islam, was not present at the time of the attack in Texas in May 2015. Two other men using weapons Kareem supplied opened fire on a hall where the cartoonists were competing. Police shot the attackers dead before they could enter the building.

A security guard was wounded during the incident, but there no injuries among the contestants, who were competing to see who could draw the funniest picture of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, an act that Muslims consider blasphemy.

Federal prosecutors said Kareem and his two co-conspirators had considered attacking military bases, shopping malls or the Super Bowl championship of American football, which was held in Arizona in 2015.

After they eventually settled on the cartoonists as their target, Kareem supplied weapons, training and details of the attack, but he remained hundreds of kilometers away when the gunplay began in Garland, Texas.

"During an interview with FBI agents soon after the attack, Kareem lied about having prior knowledge of the attack and the contest," U.S. officials said Wednesday.

He admitted knowing the two dead gunmen, who were also Americans, but denied that he was the source of their weapons or that he had supplied them with videos and other material promoting extremist Islamic causes.

"Today's sentence in the country's first trial involving a homeland terrorist attack committed in the name of [the Islamic State group] 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," Elizabeth Strange, acting U.S. attorney for Arizona, said in a U.S. Department of Justice statement.

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