An Arizona federal jury has begun deliberating a case against alleged ISIS supporter Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, accused in a thwarted terror plot targeting a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas in 2015.
This marks the first time that anyone charged with providing support to ISIS has ever taken the case to a jury, a Justice Department official said.
The U.S. District Court jury in Phoenix began deliberations Friday and will reconvene Tuesday, according to a federal court records database.
Kareem, also known as Decarus Thomas, is charged with providing material support to ISIS in connection with the thwarted terrorist conspiracy in Garland, Texas, last year.
His alleged co-conspirators were killed in a gun battle with police outside their intended target: An event featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad deemed offensive to Muslims.
The attackers, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, were wearing body armor and firing assault rifles when they were killed.
Simpson had been in contact with known jihadists prior to the attack, according to law enforcement sources.
Federal prosecutors say Kareem, Simpson and Soofi watched extremist videos together prior to the May 3, 2015, attack, including some depicting torture and executions.
The men allegedly conspired to commit jihadist attacks and also considered multiple potential targets, including military bases, shopping malls and the site of the 2015 Super Bowl, according to a December 2015 indictment.
In preparation for the attack in Garland, Texas, prosecutors allege, Kareem arranged shooting trips in the remote desert outside Phoenix where he trained Simpson and Soofi how to shoot assault rifles. He then encouraged the men to carry out the attack, prosecutors allege.
Kareem allegedly feigned having been struck by a car and attempted to make an insurance claim based in his injuries in order to raise money for attacks, according to the indictment against him.
In addition to providing arms to Simpson and Soofi, Kareem hosted the two men and others at his home to discuss the attack on the cartoon contest, the court documents said.
In a pretrial court filing, Kareem’s defense attorneys wrote that their client “had no knowledge” of plans for the attack.
“Although he may have gone shooting with them in the desert and may have purchased ammunition for guns from a common source, he had no knowledge they were going to participate in such an attack,” the defense court filing states.