A Plano teenager has pleaded guilty to plotting an Islamic State group-inspired mass shooting at a Frisco mall.
A state judge sentenced Matin Azizi-Yarand to 20 years in prison Monday for solicitation of capital murder and making a terroristic threat, state and federal prosecutors announced. The 18-year-old is eligible for parole after serving 10 years.
Azizi-Yarand was arrested in May 2018 for plotting to shoot civilians and police at a Stonebriar Centre in a rampage authorities said he was timing to coincide with Ramadan. IS has called on its supporters to carry out attacks during the Muslim holy month.
The then-high school student had been recruiting others to participate in the shooting and planned to explain it with the release of a "Message to America," according to prosecutors. He spent more than $1,400 buying weapons and tactical gear, and had been conducting surveillance of the mall.
At one point, he told one of the investigators who was posing as a supporter that “I’d actually like to make a cop surrender and drop his gun then douse him with was gasoline and burn him and record it.”
Azizi-Yarand was indicted in July, but his age presented a challenge for prosecutors. Terrorism cases are typically brought in federal court. But because Azizi-Yarand was 17 at the time of the crime and a minor under federal law, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Texas was limited in the charges they could bring against him.
It's "extremely rare" for someone to be prosecuted for terrorism charges state court, U.S. Attorney Joseph Brown said Monday at a press conference. But it made the most sense logistically and authorities wanted the tougher sentence.
“He conducted surveillance of that mall specifically picking out police officers and security guards that he would shoot first in his attack on the mall. He planned his attack on a Muslim holiday in order to minimize the number of potential Muslim casualties,” Brown said, detailing the methodical planning.
Azizi-Yarand will have to serve at least 10 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.