Matin Azizi-Yarand, a 17 year old boy from Plano, Texas was arrested on April 30th for what is now being reported as a well thought out and planned ‘lone wolf’ terror attack that was inspired by online propaganda of the Islamic State.
A task force comprising of Dallas Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) along with detectives from the cities of Frisco and Plano police departments, took Yarand into custody then charged the teen with criminal solicitation of capital murder with the intent of committing a violent attack in the United States on behalf of a known terrorist organization, ISIS.
The arrest warrant affidavit released by Frisco police department, who had several of its detectives assigned to the Dallas FBI JTTF task force, outlined several months of communiques between Yarand and two FBI “confidential human sources” where the teen expressed desires of joining ISIS and eventually planning an attack on U.S. soil.
Yarand, a resident of Plano and student at the West Plano High School, began sending text messages on a encrypted mobile app to one of the FBI sources in December 2017. He began immediately expressing his desire to “make hijrah” or travel to a ISIS controlled area either in Afghanistan or Syria.
On December 7th, Yarand, believing he was speaking with a like-minded individual, wanted his intentions to be clearly known sending this text: “Look at all the other lone wolves. What training did they have yet they simply killed the kuffar [a term meaning ‘disbelievers’ or non Muslims]?” Yarand continued, “It’s not about numbers its about getting across to these taghut [a Islamic term meaning those that worship something other than Allah] countries.”
Over several other text messages,Yarand told the informant that he converted to Islam after finding a website hosting ISIS online propaganda magazines in English. Yarand fell in love with what he thought was a strong ideological message of strength and willpower, declaring that he himself, wanted to become a warrior for ISIS. Saying in a text, “What other group have you seen brave enough to slaughter the kuffer!”
Over the next several months the teen became frustrated with not being able to join the Islamic State, complaining that his age and the difficulty of acquiring the money for a plane ticket to Afghanistan was holding him back from his dream of joining ISIS.
Yarand discussed different ways to join the terror group as to remain off the FBI and U.S. government radars, by possibly traveling to Pakistan or Indonesia, link up with ISIS recruiters there and then travel to Afghanistan to join the Islamic State, possibly the Khorasan Group, or IS-KP. The same group that had recently bombed a polling station in Jalalabad on the 29th and a suicide bombing attack in Kabul which killed several journalists the next day.
The teen complained via text that his mother was seemingly withholding funds from him until the time was right, or he reached the age of eighteen to travel to Pakistan. Then added that he had been in contact with who he believed to be an ISIS recruiter, who told him it was better to attack the West from within the United States, texting, “the ISIS guy said that we should attack America [here at home].”
According to Yarand, the ISIS recruiter informed him that his jihadist ideals were more valuable to the Caliphate if he stayed in the West than becoming just another soldier of ISIS in Afghanistan or Syria. At which time the teen began texting the informant about his plan to conduct a ‘lone wolf’ attack somewhere in or near his hometown in North Texas.
Texting the informant in February 2018, Yarand stated, “I think what I want to do is stay here and fight.” He then added, “When I go outside the house I look around and see people who deserve it.” During these texts Yarand made it clear that his plans to do harm to people was on the behalf of the Islamic State stating, “This is for the Dawlah [Islamic State] and my Amir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
He then ended the text with, “When we attack them they [will] question why their country is fighting the Muslims…maybe its useless idc [I dont care] idk [I don’t know].”
Initially,Yarand posited the idea of shooting up a school joking that “schools are a perfect place to an attack they are crowed and close quarters. Even a blind man could take out 10 easy, just fire where you hear the screams LOL!” He then went on to joke about how the Las Vegas shooter “was shooting blind and he got 100!” Yarand also celebrated the recent high school shooting deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida which killed seventeen.
Then in March the target changed to the Stonebriar Centre Mall in the suburban city of Frisco, Texas with a new text messages to the informant, “I’ve got alot of stuff planned out/new contacts. We have some planning to do LOL if you’re still on the path.”
Yarand then began staking out the mall, walking its expanse and taking pictures of what he felt were easy entrance points to the most populated portions of the shopping center. He sent several pictures of the area and entrances to the informant as well as chiding the local mall security for not having any weapons other than pepper spray. He then talked about the only police officer he found on duty in the mall was by the movie theater where he described in a text that that would be their inital entry point with a surprise attack on the police officer and then begin shooting as many people as they could afterward.
Yarand described how the plan was to set fire to shops as they moved through the mall shooting as many fleeing patrons as they could. He then sent a link to a manifesto he wrote which he intended to send out just before his killing spree;
“This is a message for America and any other country that is fighting Islam and slaughtering the Muslims with their fighter jets and other such weaponry. Due to the fact you’re scared and don’t want to face the mujahideen. You have brought this upon yourself America.”
He goes on in his manifesto to outline that his attack is designed to “make the kuffers tremble” and to force America to deploy troops on the streets like Europe has due to the onslaught of ‘lone wolf’ terrorists killing under the banner of the Islamic State. Yarand also told the informant that his plan to massacre Americans at the shopping center would need to be planned in mid-May during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as to not kill innocent Muslims that may be at the mall during his murderous deed.
However, there was just one problem with the young Yarand’s plan, he needed someone to buy him guns and lots of ammunition.
Due to his age he couldn’t legally purchase weapons and the ammunition he needed. So after expressing this with the informant, they told him they were willing to buy what he needed. Yarand then sent the FBI informant a laundry list of what he needed, among the list were armor plates and a vest capable of carrying as many magazines as possible.
“I want ten magazines maybe more.” Yarand said, adding that “you can buy all of this online, brother.” He then chose his gun of choice, the AR-15 and wanted it to be outfitted with a “bumpstock” like the Las Vegas shooter used to fire more rounds during his assault on the mall. “My rifle needs to be pretty and cool looking, maybe put a I love America sticker on the side.” he added in a text.
Yarand then gathered close to $1,400 dollars and loaded them onto pre-paid credit cards and sent them to the FBI informant so he could then purchase all that the teen needed. In April the FBI joint task force had the informant meet Yarand at a hotel near Plano where he was excited to see pictures of the equipment the informant told him they had bought for his planned attack.
During the meeting the informant kept pushing the teen to see if he was really set in his plans to attack the Stonebrair Centre Mall of which Yarand jubilantly kept confirming he was more than ready and asked that they take a tour of the shopping center together so he could outline his plan of attack.
Shortly afterwards the FBI JTTF along with local police from Frisco and Plano arrested Yarand and charged him with intent to commit capital murder as well as intent to commit a terrorist act on U.S. soil. All of which are felonies in the first degree, and thus thwarting the troubled youths plans for mass murder.
The Fusion Cell reached out the Frisco Police Department office of Chief John W. Bruce who directed us to the press release statement where Chief Bruce gave this statement, “The facts of this case, though 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.’ I would like to thank all the local and federal partners who worked on this case for the teamwork displayed in keeping our North Texas community safe.”
The Fusion Cell also reached out to the Dallas FBI public affairs office for comment who said that due to this being an on-going investigation of sensitive nature that the FBI will address future questions as the case progresses.
The FBI also directed us to the same press release where the Special Agent in Charge, Eric K. Jackson, was quoted as saying, “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.”
What is becoming very clear is that Matin Azizi-Yarand was and is a very troubled young man who withdrew into the the darker parts of the internet and chose to believe a warped apocalyptic version of Islam that the Islamic State adheres too. Just how or why this young man become so disenfranchised with his life and his surroundings as of yet remains unclear. What is clear is that this young man will spend the rest of his life in prison contemplating his desired action to commit mass murder and what could have been.
Feature image courtesy of: Stonebrair Centre