An American-born Muslim convert convicted of supporting the Islamic State terror group and helping to plot a 2015 attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years behind bars.
Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem told the judge in Phoenix he “had nothing to do” with the attack. However, authorities said Kareem provided the cash that his two friends – Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi – used to open fire outside the anti-Islam event in Garland.
Simpson and Soofi were killed in a police shootout outside the contest and a security guard was wounded. No one else was hurt.
Prosecutors sought a 50-year sentence for Kareem, who became the second person in the U.S. to be convicted of charges of supporting ISIS. He was convicted of conspiring to support a foreign terrorist organization, interstate transportation of firearms and other charges.
During the investigation, police found that Kareem has hosted two ISIS followers in his home to discuss the attack. It’s still unknown whether the Texas attack was inspired by ISIS or carried out in response to an order from the group.
Prosecutors have said Kareem watched videos depicting violence by jihadists with the two friends, encouraged them to launch violent attack to support the terrorist group and researched travel to the Middle East to join Islamic State fighters.
Authorities also said Kareem inquired about explosives to blow up the Arizona stadium where the 2015 Super Bowl was held, but later set his sights on the cartoon contest after the stadium plan fell through.
The verdicts against Kareem nearly a year ago marked the second conviction of someone within the United States on charges of supporting the Islamic State. He was convicted of conspiring to support a foreign terrorist organization, interstate transportation of firearms and other charges.
Kareem denies involvement in the plan to attack the contest, testifying that he didn't know his friends were going to attack the contest and didn't find out about the shooting until after Simpson and Soofi were killed.
Kareem told jurors that he strongly disapproved of Simpson using Kareem's laptop to watch al-Qaida promotional materials.
Prosecutors said Kareem tried to carry out an insurance scam to fund the Islamic State group and tried to indoctrinate two teenage boys in his neighborhood in radical jihadism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.