Suspect In Texas Cartoon Contest Attack Back On The Stand

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PHOENIX (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — An Arizona man accused of plotting an attack at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in North Texas faces a second day of tough questioning from a prosecutor about his knowledge of the shooting.

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem took the witness stand Tuesday at his trial on charges that he planned the attack last spring in Garland. Prosecutors say he hosted the two gunmen at his home to discuss plans for the attack. Kareem insisted he knew nothing beforehand about the attack and testified about the friends who were killed in a police shootout outside the event.

The 44-year-old moving company owner also underwent questioning about whether he was told that his friends, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, were planning to attack a military base in Arizona. Prosecutors say Kareem also encouraged Simpson and Soofi to carry out violence in the United States in support of Islamic State fighters.

At first, Kareem said a mutual friend mentioned something vague about such a plan by Simpson and Soofi, but Kareem later said he wasn’t paying attention when the comment was made.

Prosecutor Joseph Koehler asked whether such a plan would have been worth mentioning to FBI agents during their interview with Kareem about the Texas attack. “I didn’t think it was anything,” Kareem responded.

Kareem told jurors that he met Simpson and Soofi at Soofi’s pizza restaurant in northwest Phoenix in 2011. The three attended the same mosque.

He described his rift with Simpson, saying he evicted Simpson from his home because he believed Simpson was putting recording devices in his car. Kareem also said he strongly disapproved of Simpson using Kareem’s laptop to watch al-Qaida promotional materials.

“I did not want it in my house,” Kareem said, adding that they eventually reconciled.

At one point, he wiped his eyes with tissue as he recounted an apology Simpson made to him after standing up Kareem for dinner two days before the attack at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

Kareem is charged with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State terrorist group, though it’s unknown whether the attack was inspired by the group or carried out in response to an order from it. He has pleaded not guilty.

Defense lawyers claim the government is using guilt through association to target Kareem.

On the witness stand, he denied the government’s allegation that he asked a one-time roommate if he knew how to make a pipe bomb.

Prosecutors say Kareem inquired about the types of explosives needed to blow up a mall and the stadium in metro Phoenix where the 2015 Super Bowl was held.

Kareem provided his biographical information to jurors, such as having a father who was a police officer in Philadelphia, being raised in a Baptist household and converting to Islam as an adult.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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