North Texas teenage terror suspect's online chats land him on FBI's radar

One of the big questions from the alleged terror plot against the Stonebriar Centre Mall in Frisco is how the teen suspect ended up on the FBI's radar.

Police affidavits describe online chats between 17-year-old Matin Azizi-Yarand and people he thought were fellow ISIS supporters. Those contacts were actually undercover FBI employees. However, police documents don't reveal how they connected.

The affidavits reveal a great deal about how and why Azizi-Yarand wanted to carry out the violent attack at the Frisco mall, but they don't say how he got on the government’s radar in the first place.

Former ATF special agent turned security consultant, Hector Tarango, believes Azizi-Yarand likely drew attention to himself by interacting with people on known ISIS websites and chat rooms.

"In the totality of reading this affidavit, it is clear to me that he was talking to someone outside of this country potentially,” Tarango said.

The arrest affidavit does not say how the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force initially learned about him.

"You'll get somebody that will talk. Then, you'll get someone, somebody will respond to him, and then he'll get a little more boisterous and have more specific ideas of what he would do or what he would've done or what his feelings about a specific topic.” Tarango said. “At that point, they can follow that IP address."

In an exclusive jailhouse interview with FOX 4 on Wednesday, Azizi-Yarand had the same “no comment” response for nearly every question.

Azizi-Yarand denied to FOX 4 that he ever planned on carrying out an attack at the Stonebriar Centre Mall, but the arrest affidavit tells a different story.

It documents extensive online messages between Azizi-Yarand and two undercover officers he thought were fellow ISIS supporters willing to carry out a mass shooting at Frisco's Stonebriar Centre targeting shoppers, mall security and police officers.

The affidavit describes how Azizi-Yarand sent $1,400 to the undercover agents he recruited so they could buy the arms, ammunition and bullet-proof gear.

According to the affidavit, Azizi-Yarand told them “I'm expecting each of us having 10 mags each minimum // So for that you'd need 900 rounds."

On April 14th, the affidavit says Azizi-Yarand met with one of the undercover officers at a hotel near Stonebriar and then went to scout out the mall.

As they walked through the mall, the affidavit says he took pictures and sent messages to the other undercover agent saying “found their security office // Also // We saw a cop // He had a Glock and two mags back up // Along with the Tazer // And mace // Pepper spray."

Former Dallas County Chief Prosecutor Toby Shook says the state will have to prove there was intent to actually carry out the plans.

"You have to have overt acts, not just talking about it,” Shook said. “But what they will have to prove he is soliciting others to commit these crimes with him. It has to be more than a thought. They have to act on it."

Caston Dang and Daniel Nepo are good friends of Aziz-Yarand. They said while they didn't expect all this, he had expressed some negative opinions about the American government.

“My heart kind of dropped because I wouldn't expect him to do this,” Dang said. He's that type of guy you can talk to or hang out or chill with and that you can rely on.”

“It does not feel real, whatsoever,” Nepo said. “It does not feel real.”

But they never would have imagined the alleged crimes that could put their 17-year-old friend behind bars for life.

“For a whole month, he would go on about America’s corrupt,” Dang recalled. “And then me and Daniel would plug it out. It would be like, ‘Oh, okay.’”

Azizi-Yarand, who considers himself an "Islamic fighter behind enemy lines," remains in the Collin County Jail on a $3 million bond.

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