An 18-year-old Plano man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison for plotting a terrorist attack at a Collin County, Texas shopping mall, announced Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis and United States Attorney Joseph D. Brown jointly today.
Matin Azizi-Yarand pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation of capital murder and terroristic threat today in state court before 296th District Court Judge John Roach, Jr. Pursuant to a plea agreement reached by prosecutors and the defendant, Judge Roach sentenced Azizi-Yarand to 20 years in prison for the solicitation charge and 10 years in prison for the terroristic threat charge. The sentences will run concurrently.
According to information presented in court, Azizi-Yarand was arrested in May of 2018 after an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force discovered he was plotting a mass shooting at the Stonebriar Centre mall in Frisco, Texas. Inspired by ISIS, Azizi-Yarand was a high school student in Plano when he began actively soliciting other individuals to assist him in the attack, which he had planned for mid-May 2018. At the time of his arrest, Azizi-Yarand had sent more than $1,400 to an undercover FBI employee for the purchase of weapons and tactical gear, had conducted surveillance on the mall, and had met with undercover federal operatives to plan the attack. The investigation determined that Azizi-Yarand specifically intended to target police officers and civilians at the mall.
The case was filed in state district court in Collin County after federal prosecutors determined that Azizi-Yarand’s age – he was 17 at the time of the offense – limited their ability to prosecute the teen in federal court. Individuals age 17 and above are considered adults under Texas state criminal law, while federal law requires an individual to be 18 to be considered an adult.
“This was a serious, serious threat,” said United States Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “There is no doubt that Azizi-Yarand would have carried out what he was planning. Federal and state law enforcement in this district is committed to working together to combat terrorist activities in this region. We greatly appreciate all of the law enforcement that moved quickly to prevent what could have been a very bad situation. The FBI and the Plano, Frisco and Richardson police departments, as part of the regional Joint Terrorism Task Force, just did a great job. And the cooperation of the Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis and his office was outstanding and allowed us to make sure the consequence reflected the seriousness of the offense.”
“We are lucky that the vigilant men and women of federal and state law enforcement stopped this ISIS-inspired mass shooting,” said Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis. “This was textbook joint investigation and prosecution that undoubtedly saved lives. I’d like to thank United States Attorney Joe Brown and his prosecutors, the FBI, and all the law enforcement agencies that makeup North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
“Today’s plea is the result of the strong collaboration between the FBI and our partners in the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force,” said Michael Schneider, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Division. “We work together 24/7, 365 days a year to detect, investigate, and disrupt terrorist threats in order to protect our communities from harm.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force, Frisco Police Department, Plano Police Department, and Richardson Police Department. Attorneys from both the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and the Collin County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Azizi-Yarand, who will be eligible for parole after serving 10 years in prison.