Texas Teen Plotted ISIS-Inspired Mall Mass Shooting, Say Police

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Authorities arrested a North Texas high school student Wednesday on charges he was plotting an ISIS-inspired mass shooting at a Dallas-area shopping mall in mid-May.

Matin Azizi-Yarand, 17, was charged with making a terroristic threat and the criminal solicitation of capital murder for planning an attack on the Stonebriar Centre mall in Frisco. KDFW reported the teenager attended Plano West High School.

Azizi-Yarand told an individual who turned out to be an undercover federal agent that the shooting spree would happen at the Stonebriar Centre mall mid-May during Ramadan to limit the number of Muslim casualties, according to The Dallas Morning News. Azizi-Yarand said he learned the mall’s layout and had been observing patrons and onsite security.

The teenager sent more than $1,400 to other individuals to buy weapons and tactical gear. He also authored and intended to release a “Message to America,” detailing his reasons for the attack.

In January, Azizi-Yarand began communicating online with the undercover FBI agent. He discussed his desires to either “make hijrah [travel]’ or to conduct a terroristic attack in the United States, according to the probable cause affidavit. He later mulled over sites to carry out a local attack in online conversations with the federal agent, contemplating such venues as a school or a Hindu temple. He ultimately decided on the Frisco mall.

In one conversation, Azizi-Yarand told the source, “I’d like to actually like to make a cop surrender and drop his gun, then douse him with gasoline and burn him…record it.” The Morning News also reported that Azizi-Yarand wanted to cause financial damage, setting stores on fire and taking hostages.

“We can be even more careful if you’d like and take hostages and assess which ones we can kill letting go the elderly and the children,” wrote Azizi-Yarand in a message to his source. He also wrote, ““Yes, I want to put America in the state that Europe is in which is having to have soldiers deployed in the streets.”

Azizi-Yarand said he learned about Islam on the Internet, according to the Dallas newspaper. The affidavit said the teenager also sent the source several types of ISIS propaganda such as links to videos about life in the Islamic State and about being a martyr. He also included an image with the ISIS flag and a firearm as well as the text: “Jihad [Struggle/Fight] and the rifle alone. NO negotiations, No conferences and NO dialogue.” Additionally, Azizi-Yarand sent the source a document on how to build pipe bombs. It was authored by Eric Harris, one of the student masterminds of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

WFAA reported that in one of the online chats, Azizi-Yarand said he wanted act as a lone wolf  and preferred to wait until he was 18-years-old to carry out the attack so he was old enough to purchase a rifle. “I’ve only been reading ISIS magazine guides for performing operations and making bombs,” said Azizi-Yarand to the FBI source.

The FBI and the Plano and Frisco police departments investigated this case.

“The facts of this case, although alarming, serve as an example of the power of cooperation and the importance of each individual remaining vigilant in the spirit of ‘see something, say something,’” said Frisco Police Chief John Bruce in a prepared statement.

Azizi-Yarand is being held on $3 million bail. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison for criminal solicitation and up to 10 years for making a terroristic threat.

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