What are jurors being asked in PHX terror case?

Posted at 4:56 AM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-17 11:27:03-05

Trial has begun for an Arizona man accused of helping two others plan an attack at an anti-Mohammed cartoon event in Garland, Texas, last year.

Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, 44, is accused of helping Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, both of Phoenix, carry out the 2015 attack. Both were killed in a shootout with police.

A security guard was injured in the shooting, but no deaths or other injuries were reported.

Kareem is also accused of wanting to attack Super Bowl XLIX, which Arizona hosted.

On Tuesday, prosecutors and Kareem's defense lawyers began selecting and eliminating potential jurors for the case. A total of 144 potential jurors were called. The trial is expected to last five weeks.

Each of the 144 potential jurors had to fill out a 51 question questionnaire.

Many of the questions focused on age, gender and education background. It also asked if there were any medical issues that would prevent a juror from serving.

They were also asked about their feelings toward law enforcement, firearms and Islam, and whether or not they had bumper stickers on their cars.

“It’s not an exact science. It is more like deselecting jurors that might bias towards one side or another,” attorney Dan Barr said. “People who put bumper stickers on their car have a strong opinion. Whatever the topic, it gives attorneys some perspective into the juror’s background and beliefs.”

Other questions include whether jurors might have a bias towards a potential witnesses sexual orientation. The government made a request that sexual orientation of witnesses not be brought up unless it is connected to the case.

A total of 12 jurors and four alternates will be selected for the trial. It is expected to last five weeks.

Investigators say Kareem took Simpson and Soofi target shooting to get ready for the attack.

A federal indictment for Kareem gives detailed information about a potential terrorist cell in Arizona.

Investigators claim Kareem, Soofi and Simpson, attended the same Phoenix mosque and watched jihadist videos, some depicting torture and murder.

Besides Super Bowl XLIX, Kareem allegedly tried to get pipe bombs and other explosives to target military bases and the Westgate Mall.

Kareem is charged with the following:

  • Conspiring transport firearms with intent to commit felonies including: murder and aggravated assault
  • Transporting firearms in interstate commerce with the intent to commit the above felonies.
  • False statements to FBI
  • Firearms violations
  • Conspiring to support to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization