At A Glance | April 15

Texas Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for ISIS-Inspired Mall Shooting Plot

Azizi-Yarand.png

An 18-year-old from Plano, Texas, received a 20-year prison sentence after admitting he planned a mass shooting on behalf of ISIS that targeted a North Texas shopping mall. Matin Azizi-Yarand (pictured) pleaded guilty on April 8 to state charges of solicitation of capital murder and making terroristic threats. Authorities arrested Azizi-Yarand on May 1 following an investigation by federal and local authorities into the then-high school student’s plot to attack the Stonebriar Centre Mall in Frisco, Texas. Azizi-Yarand spoke with FBI informants and an undercover agent about conducting the shooting in mid-May, timing the attack around Ramadan in an effort to lessen Muslim casualties. He wanted to send a message to America and prioritized causing financial damage over a high death count based on what he read in ISIS propaganda. He observed security procedures at the mall and discussed his desire to kill a police officer. Azizi-Yarand sent $1,400 to an informant to buy weapons and tactical gear. In what US Attorney Joseph Brown called “extremely rare,” terrorism charges were brought against Azizi-Yarand in state court since he was 17 at the time of the crime and considered a juvenile under federal law. He was charged as an adult under state law in Texas. He is eligible for parole after serving 10 years.


East Brunswick Student Accused of Pulling Off Classmate’s Hijab Charged in Bias Incident

An East Brunswick (Middlesex County) student has been charged in connection with a bias incident after officials said she pulled off a hijab worn by a classmate and shouted anti-Muslim slurs during a physical altercation. The East Brunswick High School student, whose identity has not been revealed due to her age, faces counts of simple assault, harassment, cyber harassment, and disorderly conduct after the incident on April 10. East Brunswick Public Schools Superintendent Victor Valeski said the fight stemmed from an argument over seating in a common area of the school. Both students were suspended in accordance with Board of Education policy, but East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen noted that “the perpetrator was given a far worse punishment.” Cohen also said that student posted an inflammatory statement on social media. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and East Brunswick Police Department are investigating the incident in accordance with the Bias Incident Investigation Standards recently enhanced by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.


Two Arrested After IED Found at Camden County Home

Two Berlin (Camden County) residents were arrested after authorities searching their home for narcotics also found an improvised explosive device (IED). The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said that on April 6, detectives discovered the IED and bomb-making materials in a bedroom at the residence of 40-year-old Don Lee Wheeler and 30-year-old Jemma Love. Residents living nearby were briefly evacuated as the Camden County Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad removed the IED and additional materials. Prosecutors said that police also seized five rifles, four handguns, drugs, and cash. Wheeler is charged with possession of an IED, maintaining a fortified premises, drug possession, receiving stolen property, two counts of drug possession with intent to distribute, three counts of weapon possession during a drug offense, and three counts of possession of a handgun. Love faces a drug possession charge.


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Intelligence Management Bureau at outreach@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.