Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Soldier defiant on base plot charge

Naser Abdo had requested conscientious objector status (AP/US Army)
Naser Abdo is accused of plotting to launch an attack on Fort Hood, Texas (AP)

An absentee US soldier accused of plotting to launch an attack on Fort Hood was defiant during his first court appearance, shouting out the name of the Army psychiatrist accused of the 2009 shooting rampage at the same Texas base.

Federal prosecutors charged 21-year-old Private First Class Naser Abdo with possessing an illegal firearm two days after he was arrested at a motel about three miles from the front gate of Fort Hood.

He told authorities he planned to construct two bombs in the motel room using gunpowder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers and then detonate the explosives at a restaurant frequented by soldiers, court documents show.

Abdo, who had requested conscientious objector status because his Muslim beliefs prevented him from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, refused to stand up during the court hearing when asked. As he left the room, he shouted: "Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009."

Hasan, an Army major and psychiatrist, is charged over the 2009 deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood in the worst mass shooting ever on a US military installation.

Abdo's words in court were a sharp contrast to an essay he wrote last year as the first anniversary of the Fort Hood shootings approached and as he petitioned for conscientious objector status. In the essay, obtained by the Associated Press, Abdo said the attacks ran against his beliefs as a Muslim 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, Kentucky, during the July 4 weekend.

On July 3, Abdo tried to buy a gun at a store near the Kentucky post, according to the company that owns the store. Police in Killeen, where Fort Hood is located, said their break in the case came on Tuesday from Guns Galore LLC - the same gun store where Hasan bought a pistol used in the 2009 attack.

Store worker Greg Ebert said Abdo arrived by taxi and bought six pounds of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semi-automatic pistol.

"We would probably be here today, giving you a different briefing, had he not been stopped," said Police Chief Dennis Baldwin, who called the plan "a terror plot".