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Arizona man found guilty of planning attack on Texas cartoon contest

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem (Maricopa County Sheriff's Department via AP, File)

PHOENIX — An Arizona man was convicted Thursday on five counts of planning an attack at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas.

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem was also convicted of providing support to the Islamic State terrorist group. He will be sentenced June 27.

Jurors agreed with prosecutors that Kareem hosted two friends at his Phoenix home to discuss plans for the May 3 attack in Garland, Texas.

Investigators said the 44-year-old moving company owner provided the guns used in the attack and went target shooting with two friends, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who were later killed in a police shootout outside the contest.

Kareem vehemently denied the allegations. He took the stand during his trial, saying he was “positive” he had no knowledge of the attack until after it happened.

Kareem came under tough questioning from prosecutor Joseph Koehler over whether a mutual friend had told Kareem that Simpson and Soofi were planning to attack a military base in Arizona.

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

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 a rift he had 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.

Defense lawyers claimed the government was trying to use guilt through association to target Kareem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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