A grand jury indicted an Arizona man on charges of helping to plan an attack on a cartoon contest last month in Texas depicting the prophet Muhammad.
In the indictment, filed last week in federal court, the grand jury alleges that Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem aided the two gunmen who opened fire outside a controversial cartoon contest offering $10,000 to the person who drew the best cartoon of Muhammad. Depicting Muhammad is generally considered blasphemous by Muslims.
As the event wound down, two gunmen — Elton Simpson, 30, and his roommate, Nadir Soofi, 34 — drove up to the venue and opened fire. They shot a school security officer who was providing security, hitting him in his leg, authorities said, before both gunmen were killed by SWAT team members.
Kareem, also referred to in the indictment as Decarus Thomas, was charged with conspiracy, as well as making false statements that he did not know about the planned Garland attack.
According to prosecutors, Kareem and others conspired in planning to take guns and ammunition across state lines to commit a crime. This included “knowledge and reasonable cause” to believe that these crimes could include murder and aggravated assault.
This indictment also suggests that other people were involved. It says that the three men “and others known and unknown to the grand jury began a plot to disrupt the contest.”
A hearing in the case was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Phoenix, according to the FBI.
Kareem provided guns to the two gunmen, the indictment states, and he hosted them and unnamed other people inside his home to plan the trip from Phoenix to Garland for the attack. They also practiced shooting in the desert near Phoenix, the indictment says.
Two days after the attack, Kareem denied that he knew about the planned attack and said he did not know about the cartoon contest until after the shooting.
Simpson and Soofi were armed with four handguns, two semiautomatic rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, police said. While officials believe that the two men were likely inspired by the Islamic State, investigators have not found any indications that the gunmen were directed by the militant group.
The FBI knew about Simpson for nearly a decade, having previously suspected that he wanted to fly overseas to wage jihad. FBI Director James B. Comey said after the shooting that agents learned Simpson had expressed interest in going to the event and sent an intelligence bulletin to local authorities. But he said the FBI had no reason to believe Simpson had left Phoenix or was planning on attacking the event.
Garland police said later that no one in his department knew about this bulletin, though he said it wouldn’t have changed the way they responded to the attack.