A high school student has been arrested and faces charges of planning to carry out an ISIS-inspired mass shooting at a local mall this month and was looking for assistance, authorities said Wednesday.
Matin Azizi-Yarand, 17, faces charges of making a terroristic threat and criminal solicitation of capital murder, the Collin County district attorney's office said.
The target was to be the Stonebriar Centre Mall in Frisco, according to his arrest affidavit.
"Azizi-Yarand was inspired by ISIS to conduct this attack, which he had planned for mid-May," the office said in a news release.
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The Plano West Senior High School student had sent more than $1,400 to others to buy weapons and tactical gear at the time of his arrest, the office said. He'd also written and planned to distribute a "Message to America" explaining the attack.
His arrest Tuesday was the result of investigative work by the FBI, Frisco police and Plano police, the district attorney's office said.
The Plano Independent School District confirmed that Aziz-Yarand was arrested on the high school campus Tuesday morning without incident, but said in a message to parents, "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."
It added that because it's 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."
Last December, less than a month after he turned 17, Azizi-Yarand began communicating with an FBI source online and via a mobile messaging application, according to the FBI's arrest affidavit.
"Look at all the other lone wolves," Azizi-Yarand said, according to the affidavit. "What training did they have, yet they simply killed the kuffar?"
"Kuffar" is Arabic for "disbelievers."
Azizi-Yarand allegedly told the source he was reading ISIS magazine guides "for performing operations and making bombs."
"I want to put America in the state that Europe is in, which is having to have soldiers deployed in streets," Azizi-Yarand said, according to the affidavit.
In several conversations, Azizi-Yarand allegedly expressed the desire to travel to Pakistan, cross the border into Afghanistan and join ISIS.
By February, Azizi-Yarand had decided to "stay here and fight," the affidavit says, adding that he saw people who "deserve" to be attacked whenever he went outside.
He told FBI sources about two other people he met online who said they would assist in the attack, according to the affidavit.
Azizi-Yarand considered several other targets including a police officer, a Hindu temple and a school, the affidavit reads.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Islamic Association of Collin County conducted a news conference to discuss Azizi-Yarand and any connection he might have to the organization. One of the group's leaders, Asad Rahman, who serves as general counsel, said that from information they've been gathering since the news broke, Azizi-Yarand may have attended the Islamic mosque there in the past.
"We're hearing second-hand information that he might have prayed here on occasion but not actively," Rahman said. "We don't register people and our doors are open for everybody. On Friday, our holy day, anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 people come in and pray."
Rahman said Azizi-Yarand's arrest and his plan came as a shock on the one hand and a relief on the other.
"They caught him, so it's a huge relief," he said. "We all go to that mall and it's so close to home."
He added: "We have so many youth programs, sports and other activities to try to keep our kids engaged and doing positive things. It saddens you because it's like he's one of the ones that got away."
Rahman added that counseling would be available for any kids in the youth programs who need to talk about the arrest.
"Our programs won't change. But if there are kids who say they knew him and need to talk about it we'll have that dialogue," he said..