FBI: 3 Men Plotted for Months Before Cartoon Contest Attack

Three friends from a Phoenix mosque were lighting off fireworks during a New Year’s Eve celebration when authorities say they struck up a conversation about wanting to make pipe bombs.

One week later, militants attacked the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in France, and the trio became inspired to carry out an attack of their own, prosecutors say. It culminated with two of the men killed in a shootout outside a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, and the third person arrested last week in Phoenix on charges that he helped orchestrate the attack.

As federal prosecutors in Phoenix investigate whether more people might be involved, the case against 43-year-old Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem provides a window into how the men planned to attack major events, including the cartoon contest where Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi were killed by police May 3.