Naser Jason Abdo. Phoos from FOX (left) and ABC (right).
Yesterday in Killeen, Tex., Naser Jason Abdo, a 21-year-old Private First Class in the US Army who made headlines in 2010 by protesting military service on grounds of conscience, was arrested in possession of firearms, ammunition, bomb-making components, and gunpowder. Investigators say that during questioning, Abdo confessed to plotting a major attack on Fort Hood Army base, where he intended to target fellow soldiers.
Officials and investigators have stated explicitly that no motive has been established as to why Abdo wanted to target the base. No indications currently point to Abdo being involved with a terrorist organization. Also, at present there do not appear to be any co-conspirators. The known facts of the case at this time are as follows.
Naser Abdo joined the military in 2009, but refused to deploy after learning that he would be sent to Afghanistan. Less than a year after completing Army basic training, he submitted paperwork as a conscientious objector citing his religious beliefs. Abdo said to ABC: “A Muslim is not allowed to participate in an Islamicly unjust war. Any Muslim who knows his religion or maybe takes into account what his religion says can find out very clearly why he should not participate in the US military.”
In May of this year, the military agreed that Abdo should part ways with the military, but he was later found in possession of child pornography on his computer, and his discharge hearing was delayed. Last month, it was recommended that he be court-martialed. Shortly thereafter, Abdo went AWOL from Fort Campbell in Kentucky, where he had been stationed.
Yesterday Abdo was arrested in a motel room in Killeen, Tex., just minutes from Fort Hood. In his possession investigators found six canisters of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun shells, and a magazine for an automatic handgun, according to the Killeen Daily Herald. All of these items were purchased at a local gun shop, Guns Galore, where Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan had purchased his weapons and later killed 13 in a massacre at the Texas military post in 2009. Abdo also visited a military surplus store where he bought Fort Hood patches for an Army uniform. Authorities were notified by Guns Galore employees that a “suspicious male” had purchased gunpowder and ammunition.
CNN and other media outlets are also reporting that a backpack in Abdo’s room contained “Islamic extremist literature.” While it is easy to note similarities between Naser Abdo’s case and the attack by Nidal Hasan in 2009 that left 13 dead, many facts in the Abdo case are still unknown. Hasan was later shown to have been influenced by al Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Abdo was arrested not by the military but by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, along with the FBI and the Killeen police department. A spokesman for the FBI’s San Antonio office said: “We’re looking into all aspects of his background to determine his intentions.”
Update: According to the New York Times, also found in the motel room where Abdo was staying was a shopping list for what appeared to be bomb-making materials, along with a copy of the article “how to make a bomb in your kitchen sink” from al Qaeda’s English-language magazine Inspire.