World & Nation

No bail for Arizona man charged in Muhammad cartoon contest attack

A Phoenix man has been charged with supplying guns and training to two men who attacked a provocative cartoon contest that featured mocking depictions of the prophet Muhammad last month in Garland, Texas.

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, 43, faces charges of conspiracy, transport of weapons across state lines and giving false statements to investigators, according to the indictment made public Tuesday. He was ordered held without bail.

Kareem, along with an unknown number of other people, traveled to the desert outside Phoenix to help Nadir Soofi, 34, and Elton Simpson, 30, practice with firearms, including assault rifles, the indictment says.

Kareem denied knowledge of the firearms and training when questioned by investigators, according to the indictment, which was filed under seal June 10. He was arrested the next day.


At a detention hearing in Phoenix late Tuesday, a federal magistrate denied Kareem bail, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors said they learned from a confidential informant that Kareem at one point had planned to attack the Super Bowl, held in Phoenix on Feb. 1, after declaring his loyalty to the militant group Islamic State.

“This is an individual who is apt to incite violence,” prosecutor Kristen Brook said at the hearing. “This defendant, based on all these facts, is dangerous, he is off-the-charts dangerous.”

The indictment made two references to a person or people who traveled with Kareem, Soofi and Simpson to shoot weapons in the desert and who testified before the grand jury, but who were not indicted.


Kareem’s defense attorney, Daniel Maynard, challenged the reliability of the confidential informant, saying the charges were trumped up.

“This is your typical jailhouse snitch,” Maynard said in court, according to the AP.

Kareem attended the same northwest Phoenix mosque as Soofi and Simpson, both of whom were shot dead when they tried to storm the cartoon contest.

Federal law enforcement officials had put Simpson on a watch list after he posted online comments expressing interest in Islamic “holy war.” He had been convicted of lying to federal agents in an earlier terrorism-related investigation.

When FBI agents realized Simpson had slipped away from his apartment, they became concerned, especially after learning that he had surfed the Internet using the hashtag “attacktexas.”

FBI Director James Comey and other top federal officials say the bureau immediately warned Garland police that Simpson might be on his way to attack the contest. Garland authorities deny receiving any warning, however.

Physical depictions of Muhammad are considered blasphemous under Islamic tradition. The cartoon contest was organized by conservative political personality Pamela Geller, who has been harshly critical of Islam.

Garland police had prepared for trouble, and the conference center hosting the May 3 contest was heavily guarded. When Soofi and Simpson attacked, police shot them dead before they could get inside. A security guard was wounded.



Staff writer Richard A. Serrano in Washington contributed to this report.


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