Police: AWOL soldier admits to plotting explosive attack
Saturday, July 30, 2011
WACO, Texas (AP) — Coolly defiant, Pfc. Naser Abdo shouted “Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009!” as he was led out of the courtroom Friday, an apparent homage to the suspect in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation. He condemned the attack less than a year ago, but is now accused of trying to repeat it.
Investigators say Abdo, who cited his Muslim beliefs in requesting conscientious objector status last year, was found in a motel room three miles from Fort Hood’s main gate with a handgun, an article titled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom” and the ingredients for an explosive device, including gunpowder, shrapnel and pressure cookers. An article with that title appears in an al-Qaida magazine.
Abdo went absent without leave from Fort Campbell, Ky., early this month after being charged with possessing child pornography.
Police and the Army say Abdo admitted plotting an attack, but in Fuhais, Jordan, his father insisted the allegations were “all lies from A to Z.”
“My son loved people no matter who they are, whether Jews or Christians,” Jamal Abdo said. “Naser is not the kind of a person who harbors evil for the other people, he cannot kill anyone and he could not have done any bad thing.”
Jamal Abdo, 52, is a Jordanian who lived near Fort Hood in Killeen for 25 years until he was deported from the United States last year after being convicted of soliciting a minor.
His 21-year-old son was ordered to be held without bond Friday. He is charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device in connection with a bomb plot and has yet to enter a plea. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.
It was not immediately known if he would face additional charges. “Our office will pursue federal charges where the evidence takes us,” said Daryl Fields, spokesman for federal prosecutors.
In court, Abdo refused to stand when the judge entered — U.S. marshals pulled him from his seat — but he answered the judge’s questions politely.
On his way out, he yelled “Iraq 2006!” and the name of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was raped that year before she and her family were killed. Five current or former U.S. soldiers went to prison, one for a life term, for their roles in that attack.
He also shouted the name of Hasan, an Army major and psychiatrist who is charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood.
Abdo’s court-appointed attorney did not comment. His next hearing was set for Aug. 4.
According to court documents, Abdo told investigators he planned to construct two bombs in his motel room using gunpowder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers and then detonate the explosives at a restaurant frequented by soldiers.
FBI Agent James E. Runkel said in an affidavit filed in federal court that police found Abdo carrying a backpack containing two clocks, wire, ammunition, a handgun and the “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom” article. Such an article was featured in an issue of Inspire, an English-language magazine produced by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based branch of the terror group.
The allegations and Abdo’s defiance in court contrast with the words he used as he was petitioning for conscientious objector status. In an essay he sent to the Associated Press last year he said acts like the Fort Hood shootings “run counter to what I believe in as a Muslim.”
He was born in Texas to a non-denominational Christian mother and a Muslim father. Jamal Abdo said they divorced in 1993.
Naser Abdo said he became a Muslim when he was 17. He said he enlisted thinking that Army service would not conflict with his religious beliefs, but reconsidered as he explored Islam further.
“I realized through further reflection that god did not give legitimacy to the war in Afghanistan, Iraq or any war the U.S. Army could conceivably participate in,” he wrote in his conscientious objector application.
Abdo was approved as a conscientious objector this year, but that status was put on hold after he was charged in May with possessing child pornography. Abdo denied the charge before this week’s arrest.
Abdo went AWOL during the July 4 weekend. FBI, police and military officials have said little about whether or how they were tracking Abdo since he left Fort Campbell.
Jamal Abdo disputed both the child pornography charges and the bomb plot allegations against his son, and said Naser was discriminated against in the Army because of his religion.
“Fellow soldiers slurred him and treated him badly. They mocked him as he prayed. They cursed him and used bad language against Islam and its prophet,” he said.
“He reported these incidents, but nothing was done about it,” the elder Abdo said. “Therefore he wanted to leave the Army. I always told him to be calm and to focus on his duty and he used to tell me, ‘Yes, Papa.’”
He said Naser never mentioned al-Qaida and he last spoke to his son a week ago.
Abdo was arrested after a gun-store clerk told authorities he bought six pounds of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semi-automatic pistol on Tuesday — while seeming to know little about what he was buying. Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin has suggested that without the tip, a terror attack could have been imminent.
Two veterans groups that supported Abdo in his bid to be a conscientious objector said they have not had direct contact with him recently.
“If any of these allegations are true, any sort of violence toward anyone goes completely against what a conscientious objector believes,” said Jose Vasquez, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Another group, Courage to Resist, said in a statement it had removed Abdo’s profile from its website. It said it has paid $800 of Abdo’s legal fees in the conscientious objector case.
Vasquez provided a copy of a statement Abdo sent to his group last year that claimed soldiers often associated terror with Islam “during routine training exercises.”
“Only when the military and America can disassociate Muslims from terror can we move onto a brighter future of religious collaboration and dialogue that defines America and makes me proud to be an American,” Abdo wrote.