An AWOL infantry soldier caught with weapons and a bomb inside a backpack admitted planning what would have been Fort Hood's second terrorist attack in less than two years, the Army said Thursday. He might have succeeded at carrying it out, police said, if a gun-store clerk hadn't alerted them to the man's suspicious activity.Abdo had gained a number of progressive admirers thanks to his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his applying for Conscientious Objector status with the Army last year. The 21 year old PFC grew up in the Fort Worth suburb of Garland and was most recently stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY.
The 21-year-old suspect, Pfc. Naser Abdo, was arrested Wednesday at a motel about three miles from Fort Hood's main gate. He had spoken out against the 2009 Fort Hood shootings last year as he made a public plea to be granted conscientious objector status to avoid serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Like the soldier charged with killing 13 people in the shootings, Abdo is Muslim, but he said in an essay obtained by The Associated Press the attacks ran against his beliefs and were "an act of aggression by a man and not by Islam."
Abdo was approved as a conscientious objector this year, but that status was put on hold after he was charged with possessing child pornography. He went absent without leave from Fort Campbell, Ky., during the July 4 weekend.
On July 3, he tried to purchase a gun at a store near the Kentucky post, according to the company that owns the store. Abdo told an AP reporter a week later that he was concerned about his safety and had considered purchasing a gun for protection, but had not yet done so.
Police in Killeen said their break in the case came from Guns Galore LLC — the same gun store where Maj. Nidal Hasan bought a pistol used in the 2009 attack. Store clerk Greg Ebert said the man arrived by taxi Tuesday and bought 6 pounds of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semi-automatic pistol.
Ebert said he called authorities because he and his co-workers "felt uncomfortable with his overall demeanor and the fact he didn't know what the hell he was buying."
According to an Army alert sent via email and obtained by The Associated Press, Killeen police learned from the taxi company that Abdo had been picked up from a local motel and had also visited an Army surplus store where he paid cash for a uniform bearing Fort Hood unit patches.
Agents found firearms and "items that could be identified as bomb-making components, including gunpowder," in Abdo's motel room, FBI spokesman Erik Vasys said.
The Army alert said Abdo "was in possession of a large quantity of ammunition, weapons and a bomb inside a backpack," and upon questioning admitted planning an attack on Fort Hood. Officials have not offered details about a possible motive.
Baldwin, the police chief, said Abdo "was taken down rather quickly without incident."
Vasys said the FBI would charge Abdo with possessing bomb-making components and he would be transferred from Killeen police into federal custody. Vasys said there was nothing to indicate Abdo was working with others.
Although his request to become a Conscientious Objector (CO) was ultimately approved by the US Army, he was arrested in May of this year for having images of child pornography on his computer. A hearing held under Article 32 of the UCMJ recommended that he be court-martialed from the Army on those charges- Abdo went AWOL shortly after the hearing.
[Hat tip: Support Your Local Gunfighter; Weasel Zippers; Lonely Conservative]