A Texas teenager faces life in prison after plotting online to conduct a terrorist attack in a suburban Dallas mall as his audition for ISIS membership. Matin Azizi-Yarand planned to purchase weapons and ammunition on his 18th birthday later this month and conduct a massacre at the Stonebriar Mall in Frisco, Texas, but that wasn’t his only aspirational target. Azizi-Yarand told his online contact that he also wanted to conduct a shooting at a Hindu temple and thought he could pull it off because of slow police response times.
Azizi-Yarand only made one mistake. His ISIS contact turned out to be … wait for it …
According to an affidavit, the case began in December 2017 when Azizi-Yarand started communicating with an FBI source in a mobile messaging app. It is here that Azizi-Yarand allegedly expressed his desire to commit an attack, adding that he had been reading ISIS guides for “performing operations and making bombs.”
Azizi-Yarand had reportedly also been reviewing a guide to making pipe bombs which was authored by Eric Harris, one of the attackers in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. …
In multiple conversations with the FBI’s source, Azizi-Yarand allegedly said that he hoped to travel to Pakistan, and then cross the border into Afghanistan in order to officially join ISIS. He also allegedly said that he would use the mobile messaging app to find others who could help him with an attack.
Azizi-Yarand invited the FBI source to Dallas late last year. “There is a Hindu temple I want to shoot up,” the suspect allegedly said, asking for help. “Get some crappy car and ditch it somewhere. Police response time here is really slow.” He said that he was waiting until he obtained a “proper gun” to commit that shooting.
The suspect then began speaking with an undercover FBI agent in January 2018. Azizi-Yarand allegedly told the agent and the FBI source that he had two other men who were “serious about this,” but he was waiting until he turned 18 years old so that he could buy guns. Azizi-Yarand’s birthday is in November.
Azizi-Yarand went beyond talking about it at that point. He sent his “contact” money through prepaid cards in an attempt to get weapons through strawman purchases. That is an overt act that will negate a defense that Azizi-Yarand was just “kidding around” or indulging in fantasies.
The ISIS wannabe also discussed using a school as a target for his attack, calling it “a perfect place.” That might come as news to some of his friends, with whom reporters from CBS’ Dallas affiliate spoke. They describe Azizi-Yarand as a “quiet” student and seem to be bemused by his exposure as a terrorist in training:
Two months ago, Azizi-Yarand settled on the mall as his target. At that point, the FBI knew that they didn’t have much more time to string him along. They also knew he had plans if confronted by police:
However, the Stonebriar Centre appears to have been picked as the target in March. Azizi-Yarand allegedly told the FBI source that he had been observing the layout of the building, the number of security officers there, and the regular movements of the shopping mall’s patrons. He allegedly also planned to set some stores on fire.
“I’d actually like to make a cop surrender and drop his gun,” Azizi-Yarand allegedly said to the FBI source. “Then, douse him with gasoline and burn him. Record it.”
If he is convicted, Azizi-Yarand could face up to life in prison for criminal solicitation and up to 10 years in prison for making a terroristic threat. His bond has been set at a total of $3 million.
Interestingly, the prosecution will be handled by the local DA and not the US Attorney in federal court, according to the CBS affiliate reports. It will make little difference in the end. The police seized plenty of evidence, including a manifesto intended for post-attack publication, that Azizi-Yarand wanted to “target your people for revenge” for US military action in the Middle East. It will be his own words that will wind up convicting him, and the example that Azizi-Yarand will actually set will be that the FBI is pretty good at finding wanna-be terrorists before they can do harm. Anyone dumb enough to aspire to membership in a group that’s been all but destroyed is very likely to wind up in the hands of the feds.