A former U.S. Army soldier was sentenced to life in prison for plotting to launch an attack on the Fort Hood military base in Texas. Naser Jason Abdo was arrested in Killeen, Tex. in July 2011 for attempting to detonate a bomb in a restaurant popular with soldiers stationed at Fort Hood. At the time of his arrest, he was found to be in possession of a .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol and a copy of bomb-making instructions from al-Qaida's Inspire magazine.
Abdo was found by police at America's Best Value Inn and Suites in Killeen, Tx. During questioning, he "admitted that he planned to assemble two bombs in the hotel room using gun powder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers to detonate inside an unspecified restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas." He told police "he intended to conduct an attack against Killeen and Ft. Hood."
A convert to Islam, Abdo enlisted in the U.S. military and was based at Fort Campbell, Ky. with the 101st Airborne Division. But Abdo's religious beliefs started to conflict with his military career. In June 2010, after only one year in the Army, he filed for conscientious objector status prior to his first deployment to Afghanistan. He was granted the objector status and his unit was deployed to Afghanistan without him. In his application for objector status, Abdo questioned "whether going to war was the right thing to do Islamically." His objector status was however put on hold in May 2011 after he was charged with possession of child pornography. He went AWOL two months later during the July 4th weekend.
In an August 2010 interview with ABC News, Abdo said he hoped to avoid deployment to Afghanistan, and his year-long experience in the Army had shown him that "no Muslim should serve in the U.S. military." He also said that "a Muslim is not allowed to participate in an Islamicly unjust war." He was also quoted on the Islam Policy website saying he did not "believe I can involve myself in an army that wages war against Muslims. I don't believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of a Muslim…"
During an initial court appearance where he was charged with possessing an unregistered weapon, Abdo called out the name of the accused 2009 Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan as he was taken out of the courtroom. "Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009," he shouted to the crowd. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and American-born Muslim, was charged in 2009 for killing 13 people in a deadly shooting rampage at a readiness center at Fort Hood. Hasan's trial is scheduled to start Aug. 20 in Killen, Tx.
"This prosecution demonstrates two important points. First, the prevention of tragic events such as Mr. Abdo was planning can be averted by alert citizens who pass along their concerns to law enforcement officials and by law enforcement officers who diligently perform their duties. And second, that those who use or plan violence to further their twisted agendas will be prosecuted as aggressively as the law allows and will, as in this case, spend the rest of their lives staring at the walls of a prison cell," a Justice Department press release quoted United States Attorney Robert Pitman saying.