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7:41 AM Wed, Dec. 12th

Prosecutors: Judge made right call in cartoon contest case

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, convicted of helping to plot a 2015 attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, contends in his appeal that prosecutors withheld the fact that an undercover agent was at the scene just before the two attackers opened fire. Prosecutors now say a judge was correct in denying Kareem's request for a new trial based on complaints of withheld evidence. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Department)

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, convicted of helping to plot a 2015 attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, contends in his appeal that prosecutors withheld the fact that an undercover agent was at the scene just before the two attackers opened fire. Prosecutors now say a judge was correct in denying Kareem's request for a new trial based on complaints of withheld evidence. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Department)

PHOENIX (AP) — Prosecutors who won a conviction against an Arizona man for helping to plot a 2015 attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas say a judge correctly denied his request for a new trial after his lawyer claimed key evidence had been withheld.

In a March 19 court filing, prosecutors said Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem can't show the judge's ruling was in error.

"On appeal, Kareem can point to no legal error by the district court," prosecutors said in their brief.

Kareem, 46, contends authorities withheld evidence that an undercover FBI agent was at the scene of the attack just moments before two of Kareem's friends opened fire outside the anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas.

Prosecutors previously said the information about the undercover officer was classified at the time of the trial.

Kareem is serving a 30-year prison sentence for providing the guns that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi used to open fire outside the event. He also was convicted of conspiring to provide support to the Islamic State.

Simpson and Soofi were killed in a shootout with law enforcement.

Investigators say Kareem, who wasn't at the contest, had trained Simpson and Soofi to use the weapons and watched jihadist videos with them.

Kareem testified that he didn't know his friends were going to attack the contest and didn't find out about the shooting until after they were killed.

The defense claim about the FBI agent raised questions about whether authorities could have done more to stop the attack.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton, who denied the request for a new trial, had said Simpson didn't show that he wanted to attack the contest during social-media exchanges with the undercover agent.


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