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Arizona man sentenced in 2015 Texas attack, seeks new trial

PHOENIX – An Arizona man convicted of helping a plot 2015 attack on the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in a suburb of Dallas is seeking a new trial, arguing prosecutors cannot show that an undercover FBI agent who witnessed the shooting had communicated about the contest with a suspected recruiter for the Islamic State.

The agent is present on the anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas, was publicly revealed months after Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem was convicted in the May 2015 attack that ended with Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, friends of Kareem that Islamic State followers were killed in a shootout with the police.

The disclosure of the agent the presence of led Kareem to make an unsuccessful bid for a new trial last year and questions were asked about whether the government could have done more to stop the attack.

In a court filing Monday, Kareem’s lawyers again asked for a new trial, says a prosecutor in another trial last spring in Ohio said that Erick Jamal Hendricks, who was accused of recruiting for the Islamic State, was “unequivocally tied to this attack.”

Prosecutor Rebecca Magnone told the Ohio judges that Hendricks had been in contact with Simpson, who was killed by Garland police on May 3, 2015, along with Soofi after they leave a car outside the convention center wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying guns.

The information which has emerged from the Ohio test is critical information that could lead to a different outcome for Kareem if he is granted a new trial, his lawyers said.

“This is not what the court previously heard from the government in Kareem’s case,” wrote Daniel Drake, one of Kareem’s lawyers.

After Kareem the trial ended, federal authorities said that there is no substantive connection between Hendricks and the cartoon contest, Drake said.

There was no talk with Kareem the trial that an undercover agent had witnessed the shooting and exchanged social media messages with Simpson days before the attack. The agent’s involvement in the case was mentioned for the first time in the proceedings, almost eight months after Kareem the trial ended.

Cosme Lopez, a spokesman for the U. S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, declined to comment on Kareem’s last request. In an appellate court document filed earlier this year about Kareem’s conviction, prosecutors said Kareem could not leave the judge made an error in the rejection of the request for a new trial.

Kareem is serving a 30-year prison sentence for his conviction that the offer of support to the Islamic State. The prosecutors have said Kareem trained Simpson and Soofi about the use of guns and watched jihadist videos with them.

On the day of the attack, the agent communicated with Hendricks via social media, while the agent was outside the convention center, where the event was held. Hendricks asked the agent about the number of officers on the scene, and or snipers were present.

The agent had been sitting in a vehicle outside of the Garland convention center just as the cartoon contest. Just before the shooting, he took photographs of a police officer and another person who is in the distance near a tree and a picture of a parking lot.

Kareem’s lawyer said Hendricks put the undercover agent in contact with Simpson 10 days before the attack. In a meeting with the agent, Simpson referred to the upcoming contest in Texas.

The judge who is in charge of about Kareem’s trial had been denied his first request for a new trial, says Simpson not to reveal to the agent that he wanted to go to Texas to launch an attack.

The last new trial request focuses heavily on the testimony of the agent, who appeared in court under a pseudonym. Prosecutors said the agent’s identity had to be kept secret to protect him and his family and to allow him to continue working undercover.

Kareem’s lawyers said the agent interpreted the things that Hendricks said to be encoded with advice on severe attacks of the match. For example, Hendricks’ explanation that the agent needs its voice to be heard against event organizer Pam Geller was really a direction to attack her, Kareem, the lawyers said.

The statements that demonstrate that the FBI knew much more about the Wreath attack than previously recognised or made public in Kareem’s case.

The agent testified at Hendricks’ trial that he did not know that Simpson and Soofi were going to carry out an attack.

Phone messages left Tuesday and Wednesday for Edward Bryan, an attorney for Hendricks, were not immediately returned.

Hendricks was convicted of conspiracy to provide support to the Islamic State and an attempt to provide support to the terror group. He faces up to 20 years on each conviction. His sentencing is scheduled for August. 8 in Ohio.

He was not charged with participating in the Texas attack.

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Follow Jacques Billeaud on twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://bit.ly/2GGWEPO.

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