Fort Hood bomb suspect defiant during court proceeding
KIlleen Police Dept. booking photo of Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo Photo by: AFP/Getty Images
July 29th, 2011
01:33 PM ET

Fort Hood bomb suspect defiant during court proceeding

The U.S. Army private who admitted he was planning to bomb a restaurant popular with soldiers from Fort Hood should be held without bond, a federal magistrate ordered Friday.

Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo was ordered held on one federal count of possession of a destructive device. It was unclear whether additional charges were pending against him.

Abdo, who refused to stand when Judge Jeffrey C. Manske entered the courtroom, shouted an apparent reference to the 2006 rape of an Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers and the 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan before being hustled out of the courtroom by U.S. marshals.

He was being held Friday in federal custody at an undisclosed location.

Killeen police arrested Abdo, 21, on Wednesday after a gun store employee tipped them that Abdo's behavior raised red flags when he purchased six pounds of smokeless gunpowder and other supplies.

FBI investigators who searched his hotel room found enough material for two bombs, a Defense Department official said.

"Military personnel were a target of this suspect," Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin told reporters on Thursday.

Killeen is home to Fort Hood, the same military post where Hasan's 2009 shooting spree left 13 people dead.

Asked how close Abdo may have come to pulling off an attack, Baldwin said, "I can tell you that we would probably be here today giving you a different briefing had he not been stopped."

Baldwin said it did not appear that Abdo intended to stage his attack on the post, or that he had tried to gain access to the installation after going AWOL from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he had been charged by military officials with possession of child pornography.

A statement on the Fort Hood website acknowledged Abdo's arrest but said it had no connection to the post.

Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said officials have received no indication that Abdo tried to get onto Fort Hood between the time he went AWOL and the time of his arrest.

Abdo is a Muslim who had been granted conscientious objector status before he disappeared.

"He's a very dangerous individual, and he is where he needs to be," Baldwin said of Abdo, who was being held in the Killeen City Jail. Baldwin said he did not believe Abdo had any accomplices.

"We are not aware of any additional threats to the safety of our community," he said.

Greg Ebert, a retired police officer who works at the Guns Galore gun store and tipped police to Abdo, said the young man appeared suspicious as soon as he pulled up in a taxi cab.

"How many people go shopping at gun stores in a taxi cab?" Ebert asked. He described Abdo as being guarded and asking odd questions.

Abdo browsed for about 20 minutes, Ebert said, choosing six pounds of gunpowder, shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semiautomatic handgun. He asked Ebert what smokeless gunpowder was before finishing the purchase.

"Well, hello! Why are you buying this if you don't know what it's for?" Ebert said later. "That is a red flag for me. He should know. Why is he buying that much?"

Ebert said he called police after discussing the transaction at length with the owner of the store, which is the same place where Hasan bought supplies for his shooting spree.

After Abdo's arrest during at traffic stop, police searched his hotel room and backpack and found the six pounds of smokeless powder, Christmas lights and battery-operated clocks - which were apparently intended to create a timing and triggering device - sugar, shrapnel, a pressure cooker, and shotgun shells that were being dismantled for raw explosives, a Defense Department official told CNN.

The materials were enough to make two bombs, the official said.

In the soldier's backpack, police also found "Islamic extremist literature," a .40-caliber pistol and components that could be used in a bomb, a law enforcement official said.

Army officials said in statement Abdo could face additional charges, including going AWOL, if he is returned to military custody.

Abdo joined the infantry in 2009 and was assigned to Company E of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team when he refused to deploy to Afghanistan on religious grounds.

The Army approved his request to be discharged as a conscientious objector. But on May 13, he was charged with possession of child pornography on his computer, according to the statement.

After a June 15 hearing, at which Abdo was recommended for court-martial, he went AWOL.

In media interviews last year, Abdo said he felt compelled to remain true to his faith.

"We have two things that I believe make us American, and that's freedom of religion and freedom of choice," he said.

When he signed up for the military, Abdo said he had not thought that his religious beliefs would be an issue. "I was under the impression that I could serve both the U.S. Army and my God simultaneously," he said.

But as his deployment neared, he began to rethink things and eventually worked up the courage to approach his unit and tell them how he felt, he said.

"Islam is a much more peaceful and tolerant religion than it is an aggressive religion," he said. "I don't believe that Islam allows me to operate in any kind of warfare at all, including the U.S. military and any war it partakes in. I believe that our first duty as a Muslim is to serve God."

After Abdo's arrest, Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement calling it "a sobering reminder of the importance of remaining vigilant in the ongoing efforts to protect our communities from those that would do us harm."

Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, the House Army Caucus chairman, praised the gun-shop employee who tipped police to Abdo, as well as the police themselves, for interrupting what could have been a deadly plot.

"Thanks to quick action by a Texas gun dealer in alerting local police to a suspicious character, and a prompt and vigorous response by the Killeen Police Department, we may well have averted a repeat of the tragic 2009 radical Islamic terror attack on our nation's largest military installation," he said.

"We now have an example of what works to prevent these type attacks, and as the coming days reveal more details about this attempt, we can determine better ways to thwart similar efforts in the future," Carter said.

In addition to the Fort Hood shootings, Killeen is also where, in 1991, George Hennard crashed his pickup into a Luby's cafeteria, fatally shot 23 people and wounded another 20 before killing himself.

"We've been through a lot in this community," Baldwin said. "But I can tell you that's when the character of the community is more obvious."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Terrorism
soundoff (One Response)
  1. ranger 830

    Firing squad would be to good for this f@#$.He should be flown to the swat vally and released so he can see for himself the true compassion of islam.They would behead his missguided American ass and tell him he is not muslim enough.Give them time and the muslims will all kill each other over who is more muslim. No,ive seen it first hand! These idiots will all kill each other somday and we can all come home!!!!!!!! Problem Solved Foxtrot Tango Whisky how copy Over.........

    August 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Reply

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