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Man convicted of helping plot Texas assault files appeal

PHOENIX – Phoenix man sentenced for helping two Islamic State followers in 2015 an attack on the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas argues on appeal that the prosecutors withheld evidence during his trial, including the fact that an undercover FBI agent was at the scene just before the two attackers opened fire outside the anti-Islam event.

A lawyer for the 46-year-old Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem argued on appeal Wednesday that his client was denied a fair trial because the prosecutors turned over some of their evidence, or after his trial had already begun or had closed. The appeal said his trial lawyers did not have enough time to review thousands of pages of documents.

Kareem is serving a 30-year prison sentence for providing the weapons of two of his friends used to open fire outside the event in Garland, Texas. He was also convicted of a conspiracy to support the Islamic State terror group.

The friends, Elton Simpson, and Nadir Soofi were armed with semi-automatic weapons, body armor and a copy of the Islamic State’s flag when they arrived at the anti-Islam event in May 2015. They were killed in a shootout with the police assigned to watch over the event, and a security guard was shot in the leg.

Researchers say that Kareem, who is not in the contest, had trained Simpson and Soofi about the use of the guns and watched jihadist videos with them. Kareem testified that he did not know that his friends went to the attack of the race and not about the recording until after they were killed.

The undercover agent’s presence at the scene was revealed in the court takes a number of months after the trial ended. The agent had exchanged social media messages with Simpson days before the attack and was sitting in a vehicle outside of the Garland convention center as events, wrapped in the contest.

A dark sedan in front of the agent made an abrupt stop. As the agent drove around the car, two men got out and opened fire with military-style rifles. The agent drove off and was later stopped by police, according to court records.

“It is difficult to understand how a document which sets out that an FBI agent was on the scene of a terrorist attack and has been in contact with the terrorists days before the attack about the activities that are the cause of the attack can have no impact on this case,” writes lawyer Daniel Drake, that stands for Kareem in the profession.

The agent’s presence at the scene raises questions about whether the government should be more forthcoming about the agent’s role in the case and whether the government could have done more to stop the attack.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, who are persecuted Kareem, declined to comment on Thursday on the allegation that evidence was withheld.

In court documents submitted late last year, prosecutors said that the information about the undercover agent was classified at the time of the trial.

A lower court, which rejected an earlier request for a new trial had said Simpson did not show that he wanted to attack the race in its social-media-exchange with the undercover agent.

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Follow Jacques Billeaud on twitter.com/jacquesbilleaud. His work can be found at https://www.apnews.com/search/jacques%20billeaud.

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