Far too often during the Obama administration, attacks that had all the hallmarks of Islamist terrorism were never charged or labeled as terror attacks. Some of the many examples: The 2009 fatal shooting attack by Tennessee Islamic convert Carlos Bledsoe on a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas; the 2014 fatal decapitation attack by Oklahoma’s Alton Nolen at Vaughn Foods in Moore, Oklahoma; and the 2017 head-shot execution of a Denver transit security officer by Texas resident Joshua Cummings. Those and many other Islamist-inspired attacks were left to local authorities to charge under various state laws, such as murder.
Correct or not, critics often attributed Obama-era decisions not to charge extremism-motivated cases under federal terrorism statutes to a desire to downplay the Islamist threat — and maybe also to reduce the number of terrorism attacks accrued under the Democratic Party’s watch. In other cases, legal rationales actually underlay decisions.
The backup solution for either eventuality — be it politically motivated threat denial or prosecutorial needle-threading — is for all U.S. states to carry their own terrorism statutes. That now especially goes for Texas.
The Lone Star State was not among the 33 states that passed statutes right after 9/11 with which prosecutors could charge and penalize terrorists. Few states have actually used them. But a new literal case in point — that of a juvenile jihadi rolled up in May — shows why Texas and the other states should finally acquire state-level terrorism statutes at the first opportunity.
The case involves West Plano High School senior Matin Azizi-Yarand, 17 years old when Frisco, Texas, police arrested him with FBI agents staged carefully in tow. During the first months of 2018, the FBI ensnared Yarand in an undercover stingwherein he allegedly thought he was plotting with other ISIS-infatuated operatives to use firearms to slaughter shoppers at a high-end North Texas shopping mall. He allegedly fantasized about disarming a police officer and then burning him to death during the envisioned melee.