GARLAND, Texas — An Arizona man has been sentenced to federal prison for witness tampering and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during a terrorism investigation into an ISIS-related shooting at a Muhammad Art Exhibit in north Texas.
54-year-old Abdul Khabir Wahid of Phoenix, Arizona, was sentenced on March 3, 2020, to 67 months in federal prison for making false statements to the FBI. His sentence is to be followed by three years of supervised release.
According to evidence presented at trial, Wahid committed the offenses during the FBI investigation into the May 3, 2015, ISIS-related attack on a Muhammad Art Exhibit, which depicted cartoon images of Muhammad, being held at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas.
Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, both also of Phoenix, traveled from Arizona to the event center in Garland, stopped their car near a security vehicle at the front of the venue, and opened fire at security personnel and law enforcement officers.
Simpson and Soofi were shot and killed during the attack. A Garland ISD security personnel was injured in the gunfire.
Wahid, according to prosecutors, did not travel to Texas and did not participate in the Garland attack.
Two days prior to the attack, on March 1, 2015, Simpson instructed Wahid to deliver a key and an envelope to a third person — facts he would later conceal during a March 6, 2015, interview with the FBI.
"Trial testimony revealed the FBI would have pursued additional avenues of investigation had Wahid truthfully disclosed the information, but was unable to do so in a timely manner," stated federal prosecutors.
On the witness tampering charge, Wahid tried to persuade Soofi's brother to not speak to the FBI, to lie about seeing Simpson and Soofi with guns, and to lie about observing ISIS propaganda videos in Simpson and Soofi's apartment.
“Wahid obstructed a terrorism investigation and is no friend of the United States,” stated U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey. “I want to thank the FBI for the tremendous effort that went into the underlying investigation, as well as the brave law enforcement officials in Garland whose quick action during the attack prevented a much larger tragedy.”
“The FBI takes its mission of protecting the American public seriously, and we are dedicated to conducting fair and thorough investigations,” stated Sean Kaul, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Phoenix Field Office. “Wahid not only lied to the FBI but he directly interfered with an investigation. This sentencing shows that, those who participate in that type of activity will be held accountable for their actions. The FBI would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their diligent work on this case.”