A 17-year-old Texas student was arrested Wednesday on terrorism charges for what federal and local authorities was a plan for a mass shooting at a shopping mall.
Police said Matin Azizi-Yarand had a manifesto and had pledged allegiance to ISIS.
It’s also reported the teen, using plans written by Columbine killer Eric Harris, was learning how to construct pipe bombs.
The Plano high school student’s plan was foiled by a joint counter-terrorism operation. The supporting affidavits for the warrant for the arrest of the teen detail the ongoing conversations between Azizi-Yarand and an undercover federal agent and confidential source that maps out a planned mass shooting at a Texas shopping mall this month.
The affidavits show Azizi-Yarand was “arrested for soliciting others to join him on mass shooting spree” and also showed he talked about wanting initially be a “lone wolf.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The FBI Says a Plano Texas High School Student Planned a Shopping Mall Mass Shooting, Not a School Shooting, in a ‘Message to America’
Police said Matin Azizi-Yarand, 17, a student at the Plano West Senior High School in the Plano Independent School District was planning a mass shooting spree, but not a school shooting.
In a letter to parents obtained by local media, Joseph L. Parks, executive director of safety and security services for the district confirmed the arrest on the campus of the Plano West Senior High School by the FBI and Plano Police Department but added that the arrest, executed without incident, and the charges the student, whom he does not name, faces have nothing to do with the school, the district, or any student.
2. Azizi-Yarand, Being Held on $3 Million Bond, Faces Terrorism Charges
Police say the plan called for a mass shooting at Stonebriar Centre mall in Frisco, Texas.
Azizi-Yarand, being held on $3 million bond, will be charged with criminal solicitation of capital murder and making a terroristic threat, according to Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis. Willis’ statement says the charges are made on behalf of the FBI, Frisco Police Department, and Plano Police Department.
Azizi-Yarand was “arrested for making terroristic threats to carry out his plan of committing a mass shooting at a local mall and for soliciting other individuals to assist him in the mass shooting attack,” according to Willis. The prosecutor says Azizi-Yarand was “inspired by ISIS to conduct this attack, which he had planned for mid-May.”
At the time of arrest, Azizi-Yarand sent more than $1,400 to others for the purchase of weapons and tactical gear., authorities said. Azizi-Yarand had “written and planned to disseminate his ‘Message to America’ explaining the reasons for his attack,” Willis said.
If convicted, Azizi-Yarand faces up to life in prison for criminal solicitation and up to 10 years in prison for making a terroristic threat.
3.The Affidavits Spell Out What Azizi-Yarand Told an Undercover FBI Agent About His Plans
Heavy is still combing the 16-page affidavit which describes in detail the communication between Azizi-Yarand and an FBI ‘confidential human source’ (CHS) and later an undercover FBI agent, about his desire to “conduct a terrorist attack within the United States.” The communications began last December and lasted up until April 28. On April 30, the warrant was issued for his arrest.
Azizi-Yarand and the CHS communicated via a mobile messaging app. Azizi-Yarand said ‘look at all the other lone wolves. What training did they have? Yet they simply killed the kuffar? The brothers in Europe, the brother in Spain, the brother in New York,? Had no military training. It’s not about numbers it’s about getting a message across to these (target) countries …it’s dangerous though …we have to be careful some have gotten arrested. So we good, brother?”
Azizi-Yarand said he had planned to wait until he was 18 (November 22,2018) so he could purchase a rifle legally but said, “I swear I want to achieve Allah’s pleasure and kill the kuffar.” He said he’d “been reading ISIS magazine guides for performing operations and making bombs.”
But on December 22, he sent the undercover a two-page document authored by Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris that “contains detailed instructions on how to build pipe bombs.” Azizi-Yarand sent a “link to a video which he described as “showing how to stab …make a bomb.”He told the undercover that he should “skip about halfway if you just want to see the bomb making; (the) first half is knife attacks.”
The FBI undercover asked Azizi-Yarand where he found these types of materials and he said through magazines, which the agent said in his training and experience are published by Al Qaeda.
According to the affidavits, Azizi-Yarand told the FBI agent that “it is not about how many (you) kill but how much money you will make these countries spend in security” adding that “a high number will get their attention.” The documents detail the depth of Azizi-Yarand’s plans.
“I’ve played some scenarios in my head. I don’t plan to go in blind,” he is quoted as saying. And in the detail of how the mass shooting and potential bombing would go at the mall, he said, he’d like to see a police officer “surrender and drop his gun and then douse him with gasoline and burn him an record it.”
4. The Case Against Azizi-Yarand, Made by the FBI, & Frisco & Plano Police Departments, Will be Prosecuted Locally
Azizi-Yarand will be prosecuted by the Collin County District Attorney’s Office with support from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.
Under Texas state law, if convicted, Azizi-Yarand faces up to life in prison for criminal solicitation and up to ten years in prison for making a terroristic threat.
“We are fortunate that the brave men and women of local and federal law enforcement work around the clock to prevent acts of terrorism and mass shootings,” Willis said in a statement where he thanked the FBI’s North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Frisco and Plano police departments for their “vigilance in protecting the citizens of Collin County.”
5. The FBI’s North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force Special Agent-in-Charge Says he’s ‘Not Aware’ of Other Threats Related to the Case. Meanwhile, Many Are Reacting to the News of the Arrest & Charges Against Azizi-Yarand
“The FBI’s North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force was able to successfully work with local, state, and federal partners to apprehend an individual who intended to do harm within the city of Frisco, Texas. The FBI is not aware of any additional threats associated with this arrest. The American people can take comfort in knowing that we continue to work diligently to protect and defend the United States and to ensure the safety of the communities we serve,” said Eric K. Jackson, FBI Dallas Special Agent-In-Charge.
Azizi-Yarnand’s “best friend” was stunned.
Others commented on the closeness of the threat.
On Azizi-Yarnand’s Facebook page, while not set to public, it appeared he had not posted in a while, what he did post were memes so it gives little clues about the teenager. What appears to be his Instagram is set to private. And there are a number of Twitter accounts with his name or names that resemble his.
Local news media spoke to Azizi-Yarnand’s father who said his son was a good kid and student and the father had “no clue” what his son may have been involved in.
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