Derrick Thompson set out to kill and injure strangers in the area, and for that desire, he is going to spend mere months in prison.
Thompson was actively trying to secure an automatic weapon to carry out a jihadist attack when the FBI stopped his plan. He was already a known felon and not able to legally own a gun.
The arrest of Thompson back in December of 2016 came at the end of a two year FBI investigation.
Before his arrest, Thompson was trying to purchase an automatic weapon online. As luck would have it, that sale fell through as he was not in the local area at the time.
The person selling the gun wanted to deliver it in person and carry out the transaction as soon as possible. The gun was sold to another customer because they were readily available to pick up the gun.
Thompson was not in the Phoenix area at the time he was trying to buy that gun. There is a great deal of evidence that points to the fact that Thompson was trying to make the online, private sale to hide the fact that he was not able to legally buy a gun.
When the FBI started to investigate the man’s activity online, they found a series of startling internet searches.
Not only was Thompson trying to buy very dangerous weapons, but he was also planning a lone-wolf type of attack in Phoenix.
Based on hours of internet searches, it appears that the target for the ambush-style attack was going to be a local midnight mass. Thompson was targeting a place of worship as a jihadist.
The overall plan was a bit shaky as he was also searching for the difference between martyrdom and suicide. There is a reason to believe he intended to either kill himself or die via suicide by cop.
Even though there was plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that Thompson was planning an actual terrorist attack, he was not charged with anything tied to supporting terrorism.
Instead, he received a much more general criminal charge for “…participating in and assisting a criminal syndicate along with attempted misconduct involving weapons.”
The lack of charges tied directly to terrorism may explain how Thompson walked away from his plot with such a short jail term. This crime and motives far outweigh the minimal sentence.
The fact that Thompson was not charged with supporting terrorist activities does not seem to make sense in this case though. He is a self-professed “avid jihadist” who regularly endorsed ISIS efforts online.
During the months before the failed gun purchase, he was also very active in planning his attack. His internet searches included information about “…assault rifles, scopes, ammunition, suppressors, handguns, shotguns, and crossbows.”
Thompson seemed to be obsessed with the idea of carrying out a terrorist attack in America. He was well-known in many internet forums that held out lone-wolf attacks in the name of ISIS as being a positive thing.
Thompson made no efforts to hide his support of ISIS. He even went as far as updating public profiles including his Google Plus account to pay tribute to the terrorist group connection when he merely posted “…right, we need to get down with this ISIS s–t.”
Beyond the fact that there is plenty of evidence that Thompson intended to act as a part of ISIS, there is also an issue with his criminal history. At the time of his arrest, he was already not able to legally own a gun because he was a felon.
It is not clear how a felon who seems to be proud of his status as a jihadist is not going to prison much longer for his efforts to kill people in Phoenix. The short prison term will be followed by three years of monitoring, but again, this does not seem to fit the crime.
Part of the stipulation of the three years of supervision includes having to turn over his passport to the court. This seems odd at best since his efforts to support ISIS had little to do with ever traveling outside of the United States.
Thompson was ready and able to die as a jihadist. Not being able to leave the U.S. will not change this desire since he was already focusing on an attack on American soil.