Phoenix man sentenced to 30 years for helping plot Texas attack

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem was convicted of supporting followers of the Islamic State in an attempted 2015 attack (Photo: AP)

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem was convicted of helping Islamic State followers in an attempted attack (Photo: AP)

A Phoenix man was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison Wednesday for assisting two Islamic State followers in an attempt to attack an anti-Islam event that ended in a fatal shootout with law enforcement.

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem — an American-born Muslim convert — was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton Wednesday in federal court, the Associated Press reports.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence and then a 50-year sentence for Kareem, who was charged with helping friends Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi plan an attack on the “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest” event in Garland, Texas, in May 2015. That attack resulted in a police shootout in which both Simpson and Soofi were killed and a security guard wounded.

According to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kareem was convicted on March 17, 2016, of conspiring to support ISIL, conspiring to transport and transporting firearms and ammunition with the intent to commit murder and aggravated assault, lying to the FBI, and possessing a gun while being a felon.

“Today’s sentence, in the country’s first trial involving a homeland terrorist attack committed in the name of ISIL, demonstrates the commitment of the United States to hold accountable any person who participates in or aids in any way acts of terrorism against our citizens,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange.

The AP reports authorities have indicated Kareem, who was still in Arizona at the time of the attack, watched jihadist videos with the two attackers and encouraged them to carry out a violent attack in support of ISIL.

Prosecutor Kristen Brook said Kareem talked about wanting to strap a bomb to his chest and murder non-believers, and authorities said Kareem had inquired about explosives he wanted to use to blow up the 2015 Super Bowl stadium in Arizona.

Bruce Joiner, the security guard wounded during the attack, told the judge that he suffers from anxiety due to the shooting but still sees value in Kareem’s life.

“I offer my forgiveness,” Joiner said.