PLANO — A Plano teenager was arrested for planning and trying to recruit others to commit an ISIS-inspired mass shooting at a Texas shopping mall, Stonebriar Centre Mall in Frisco, Texas.
According to authorities, Plano West High School student Matin Azizi-Yarand, 17, planned the attack for mid-May after being inspired by ISIS.
Police arrested Azizi-Yarand at Plano West High School on Tuesday. At the time of his arrest, Azizi-Yarand sent more than $1,400 to others for the purchase of weapons and tactical gear.
He had been talking online with an undercover FBI confidential human source about his desire to either "make Hijrah [travel]," or to conduct a terroristic attack within the United States.
Through several conversations online, it was uncovered that Azizi-Yarand wanted to act as a lone wolf. He wanted to wait until he was 18 to carry out this attack, so he could purchase a rifle himself, according to affidavits.
"I've only been reading ISIS magazine guides for performing operations and making bombs," Azizi-Yarand told the undercover federal agent.
Affidavits show throughout several other online conversations, Azizi-Yarand sent the agent various types of ISIS propaganda.
"I'd like to actually make a cop surrender and drop his gun, then douse him with gasoline and burn him ... record it," Azizi-Yarand said during talks about the mall shooting.
The teen allegedly spent weeks staking out the mall. Investigators say he was detailing security’s placement, and outlining a strategy for a surprise attack on cops. They say the teen suggested a shooting rampage and burning down several stores.
"We just feel very surprised,” said neighbor, Chris Schlagal. Neighbors on the 17-year-old terror suspect’s quiet Plano street say they are shocked by the arrest.
Neighbors called the revelation scary. Neighbors witnessed FBI agents surrounding the teen’s home. "They had fully automatic weapons,” Schlagal recalled. “There was about 15 of them. They came up and came by the side of our house to the back of their house.”
Investigators claim Azizi-Yarang use mobile messaging applications to try soliciting the help of undercover officers. Authorities say he had written and planned to release what he called a “Message to America,” which explained the reasons for his attack. Court documents show in one message the teen wrote, “I want to put America in the state that Europe is in which is having to have soldiers deployed in the streets.”
In another message the teen allegedly wrote, “I’m going to get martyred.”
As the 17-year-old now sits in Collin County Jail on suicide watch, North Texas-based Islamic are denouncing the Azizi-Yarand’s alleged actions.
“Ours is a religion of peace and such violence has no basis whatsoever in our faith. We unequivocally condemn any such acts of hate and violence,” said Asad Rahman, general counsel for the Islamic Center of Frisco.
Under Texas state law, if convicted Azizi-Yarand could face up to life in prison for criminal solicitation and up to 10 years for making a terroristic threat.
The following letter was sent to Plano ISD students regarding the Azizi-Yarand incident:
In an effort to keep our student and parent community informed, I am writing to provide some details concerning an incident that occurred yesterday at Plano West Senior High School. Shortly before noon, law enforcement officials from the FBI and Plano Police Department served an arrest warrant on a student at the campus. The student was arrested without incident. Law enforcement officials have confirmed that the offense for which the student was arrested was unrelated to Plano West, Plano ISD or any fellow students.
Because this matter involves a criminal investigation unrelated to the district, any additional details regarding the arrest, investigation or pending charges should be requested from the FBI and/or the Plano Police Department.
Joseph L. Parks
Safety and Security Services
Plano Independent School District
Azizi-Yarand's bond is set at $3 million.