Trial Begins for Suspected Mastermind of Mohammad Cartoon Contest Shooting

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The trial of Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem is expected to last five weeks. Kareem is the supposed mastermind behind the attack on a free speech event and cartoon contest held in Garland, Texas. This is the first time in U.S. history a federal court will try an American for coordinating a terrorist act on behalf of the Islamic State (IS).

He is being charged with two counts of conspiracy, transporting firearms and ammunition over state lines, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and lying to investigators in regards to the Garland incident.

Born Decarus Lowell Thomas, Abdul Kareem reportedly has been a Muslim most of his life, and was not a recent convert. Kareem struggled with substance abuse, with two drunk driving convictions including one from 1998. In 1997, was charged with aggravated assault for pointing a gun at a woman.

Prosecutors told the jurors that Kareem along with fellow jihadist cohorts Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, watched violent IS images of beheadings and executions and made arrangements to travel to the Middle East and noted that Kareem downloaded a 55-minute IS recruitment called “Flames of War” that expresses the IS cause. Kareem reportedly also attempted to indoctrinate an 11-year old and 12-year old by showing them IS propaganda.

The prosecution believes Kareem served as the bank roller, trainer, and motivator for a terrorist team set on mass murder. After the horrific attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, Kareem was heard cheering and saying, “those are my people.”

Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCP), stated that Decarus Thomas had been attending his mosque for four years. In 2013, Decarus Thomas officially changed his name to Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem. ICCP has ties to the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood organization with a history of involvement in financing the terrorist group Hamas. In addition ICCP has two other former members who were convicted on terrorism related charges, Hassan Abu-Jihaad and Derrick Shareef.

Additionally, ICCP members were also involved in an incident in 2008 where over 20 Muslim males were observed engaging in firearms training. Police were called because the activity involved illegally discharging weapons in a residential area.

Authorities first interviewed Kareem in late 2011 as part of a terrorism investigation when his roommate tried to use a phony Arizona State University degree to get into an Islamic University in Saudi Arabia. As authorities searched the premise they found al-Qaeda promotional materials on Kareem’s laptop and flash drive, which he denied were his.

78 Americans have been charged with attempting to commit acts of terrorism in the United States since March 2014.  While 24 have pled guilty to charges, no one has gone on trial for these crimes. The FBI is also currently conducting a nationwide probe into 900 suspected Islamic State supporters.

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