Prosecutors in Phoenix asked jurors during closing arguments on Friday to convict the defendant who is accused of planning terrorist attacks at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas, last May.
UPDATE: After the first day of jury deliberations, no verdict was reached by the jury, the Dallas Morning News reported.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Joseph Koehler was reported to accuse Abdul Malix Abdul Kareem saying, “He was a motivator. He was a bankroller. He was a trainer and an intended participant.” Koehler noted that the two men printed out an Isis flag and brought it to the art exhibit. “They want to announce to the world that we are here on behalf of Isis,” he told the jury. “He knew exactly what was going on with these folks.”
Kareem is accused of being involved in the planning of the attack at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland on May 3, 2015 at the Curtis Culwell Center. Garland is a suburb of Dallas, Texas. Prosecutors say he provided the firearms to the two men who tried to carry out the plan. The Curtis Culwell Center is part of the Garland Independent School District and is a gun-free zone.
The alleged terrorist also stands accused of lying about injuries he allegedly sustained while in an automobile accident in order to get insurance money to use to fund the attack. Kareem also faces a charge of assessing an Islamic State database of U.S. military servicemen and women’s home addresses, as reported by the New York Daily News, and of planning an attack at Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona.
Elton Francis Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi drove to the Culwell Center on May 3, 2015, stopped and got out of their car, and began shooting at security personnel and law enforcement with assault rifles. Participants of the event and news media covering it, including three Breitbart Texas writers, were inside the building. A security guard was shot by a bullet and injured, and Simpson and Soofi were shot and killed by police officers. Three members of the Breitbart Texas team were at the Culwell Center at the time of the attacks. The attack was reported by Breitbart Texas.
Breitbart News’ AWR Hawkins reported that “their attack was cut down by good guys with guns who were there to stop bad guys.” The shooters were dead in 15 seconds after the shootout began with heavily armed Garland PD.
The terrorist group ISIS claimed credit for the attack at the art exhibit and contest, as reported by Breitbart Texas. The group called the gunmen “soldiers of the caliphate” and promised more attacks would follow. The message was transmitted in an audio statement through the group’s Al Bayan radio station, according to an AP report published on the website for ABC13 News in Houston. It was not clear if the shooters were acting under direct orders from the Islamic State, or if they pledged their allegiance to ISIS and then acted on their own.
One day after the attack, Breitbart News’ Jordan Schachtel reported that approximately 200 Muslims in Pakistan held a gathering to honor the jihadis who tried to carry out the terror attack in Garland.
The terrorist attack in Garland has been referred to as a “jihad against free speech,” as reported by Breitbart News.
“I believe the shooters were motivated by what they thought was the Islamic State, but I’m not sure they were directed by the Islamic State,” said Scott Stewart, a vice president of the Texas-based global intelligence company Stratfor and former U.S. State Department investigator, told the Associated Press.
Kareem was indicted in December 2015 on five counts: (1) Conspiracy; (2) Interstate Transportation of Firearms with Intent to Commit a Felony; (3) Making False Statements; (4) Felon in Possession of Firearm; and (5) Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
The indictment, attached below, alleges Kareem, Simpson, and Soofi have “frequently spent time together at their respective residences and elsewhere in the Phoenix area. They also attended the same mosque. “It also alleges that “In and around this time period, the three men became interested in violent jihad and the foreign terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).” It says, “The three men watched and read ISIL-related videos and other materials relating to ISIL and violent jihad and expressed their support for the terrorist organization.” It also states that “in or about 2014” the three “began conspiring to support ISIL
The indictment also notes that “Since at least 2014, using social media, ISIL has called for attacks against citizens-civilian and military-of the countries participating in the United States-led coalition against ISIL. For instance, on September 21, 2014, ISIL released a speech of Abu Muhammed Al-Adnani, a senior leader and official spokesman of ISIL. In this speech, entitled, ‘Indeed Your Lord is Ever Watchful,’ Al-Adnani calls on Muslims who support ISIL from around the world to ‘defend the Islamic State’ and to ‘rise and defend your state from your place where you may be.’ In addition, using social media, ISIL has been encouraging individuals to kill specific persons within the United States. ”
The charges also set out that the conspiracy “focused on supporting ISIL by providing, among other material support, themselves and their services, to ISIL, including by attacking targets in the United States.” The indictment further states that “Among the targets Kareem, Simpson, and Soofi considered as part of their conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL were military bases, individual military service members, shopping malls, Super Bowl XLIX, which, as of the time of their planning, was to be held in Glendale, Arizona, on February 1, 2015, and a so-called Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest scheduled to occur in May 2015 at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas.”
As reported by the local ABC affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona where the trial is taking place in a federal district court, the 44-year-old moving company owner defendant took the witness stand on Tuesday and Wednesday and claimed that although his two friends were killed by police in Garland, he knew nothing about their plans to commit a terrorist attack on Americans. The three men attended the same mosque in Phoenix.
In July 2015, Pamela Geller, the art exhibit’s organizer, published an article on Breitbart News revealing information about the Phoenix mosque and other mosques that have been attended by terrorists.
One of the three men was reported by the New York Daily News to have engaged in more than 100 social media messages with an overseas terrorists right before the Garland attack, according to FBI Director James Comey.
Kareem also was reported to have testified that a mutual friend said something vague about a plan to attack a military base in Arizona but later testified that he wasn’t really paying attention at the time. When a prosecutor asked him whether he should have told FBI agents during their interview with him about the Texas attack, he answered, “I didn’t think it was anything.”
His defense team has been reported to argue that the government is using “guilt through association to target Kareem.”
Kareem is accused of housing the two men in his home and conspiring with them. Kareem was reported to say he evicted Simpson from his home because he thought Simpson was putting tracking devices on his car. He also claimed he strongly disapproved of Simpson using his laptop to watch al-Qaida propaganda. When he was asked why he never told investigators that Simpson was watching videos showing the beheading of people, he was reported to have answered that they never asked him about the videos.
The defendant has been alleged to have taken such overt acts as traveled to remote desert areas near Phoenix with Simpson and Soofi to practice shooting firearms, and to have transported firearms and ammunition in interstate commerce with the intent to commit crimes. He is also accused of lying to the FBI about his discussions and actions with Simpson and Soofi.
When he was testifying, he denied that he asked his roommate about how to make a pipe bomb. Prosecutors were reported to have asked about the types of explosives that would be necessary to carry out a bombing attack at the Super Bowl at the Phoenix stadium. This roommate, Stefan Verdugo, testified that Kareem wanted to get revenge on people who were drawing the prophet Muhammad.
Kareem says he was raised Baptist but converted to Islam as an adult. His name when he was born was Decarus Thomas. His father was a police officer in Philadelphia.
After the attack, Breitbart News’ Frances Martel reported that an unidentified “senior law enforcement official” told the New York Times that, while the FBI had been aware of Elton Simpson for nearly a decade, they did not follow his violent and pro-jihad tweets as closely as they could have because “there are so many like him.” He said the agency is overwhelmed by the traffic.
One of the terrorists involved in the attack in Garland was allegedly allowed to purchase a 9mm handgun from a gun store that is connected to the infamous Fast and Furious gun program run by the Obama Administration in 2010. The pistol was reported to have been purchased at Lone Wolf Trading Co. located in Phoenix, as reported by Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price.