Man Accused in Anti-Islam Cartoon Attack Awaits Verdict

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Source: The New York Times

PHOENIX — Jurors on Friday began deliberating the fate of a Muslim convert accused of financing, training and motivating the two men who tried to attack an exhibit of anti-Islam cartoons last year in Texas. The assault was thwarted, leaving the gunmen dead after a shootout with the police.

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, a Phoenix resident whose name was originally Decarus Thomas, is accused of transporting guns across state lines, arming the attackers and training them to use the weapons, conspiring to support Islamic extremists and lying to federal agents. Mr. Kareem, 44, who served time in prison on a drunken-driving conviction, is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

On May 3, Elton Simpson, 30, and Nadir Soofi, 34, drove from Phoenix to Garland, Tex., and opened fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center, targeting an exhibit of images that lampooned the Prophet Muhammad, an event meant to denigrate Islam. The gunmen injured a security guard.

Mr. Kareem’s lawyer, Daniel D. Maynard, argued that the federal government was trying to cast his client as guilty by association.

“What the government has done in this case is try to deal with your fears, the fears that we have about the unknown, about homegrown terrorism,” Mr. Maynard said.

Earlier this week, Mr. Kareem spent two days on the witness stand, asserting his innocence and denying any knowledge of the plans or of the cartoon exhibit. He told jurors about his past: He was born into a Baptist family in Philadelphia, his father worked as a police officer. Mr. Kareem, who owns a moving company, said he met Mr. Simpson and Mr. Soofi at Mr. Soofi’s pizzeria in West Phoenix in 2011. He said the three men prayed together and attended the same mosque.

Mr. Kareem converted to Islam as an early adult, changing his name in 2013, after serving time in prison. Mr. Maynard said his client had an open-door policy at his home, inviting friends over after evening prayer or taking in those who needed a place to stay.

Mr. Simpson lived with Mr. Kareem for several months, but he said they fought over Mr. Simpson’s use of Mr. Kareem’s laptop to watch promotional videos for Al Qaeda.

“I did not want it in my house,” Mr. Kareem told jurors, though he said he and Mr. Simpson had eventually reconciled.

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