was AWOL from the Army at the time
Naser Jason Abdo, the 22 year old AWOL soldier who hoped to achieve ‘martyrdom’ by killing soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas, was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms today for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Abdo, a Muslim convert who grew up in north Texas, was a Private First Class in the U.S. Army and was absent without leave from Ft. Campbell Kentucky when he was arrested in Killeen Texas, just outside of Ft. Hood in July of 2011, and found to be in possession of instructions on how to build a bomb, bomb making components, and a handgun.
He was arrested after a retired Killeen police officer who now runs a gun store in the community became suspicious when Abdo came into his store and asked to buy smokeless gunpowder but appeared to be confused about what the substance is and how it should be handled.
Testimony at Abdo’s trial indicated that he hoped to build a bomb inside a restaurant just outside the main gate of Ft. Hood, and then use the weapon to shoot people running away from the scene, as well as emergency crews rushing into the location. Prosecutors said Abdo hoped to be killed by police and become ‘a martyr.’
“This prosecution demonstrates 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 wall of a prison cell,” U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman, who’s office prosecuted the case, told Reuters.
In addition to the two life sentences, U.S. District Judge Walter Smith imposed a mandatory consecutive 60 years imprisonment for one count of attempted murder of officers or employees of the United States.
He was also convicted of two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a federal crime of violence, and one count of possession of a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
Pitman praised Greg Ebert, the retired police officer who notified Killeen Police after Abdo came into his store, arriving in a taxi, which he says is unusual for gun store customers. Police arrested Abdo the next day at a local motel, where he was found to be in possession of bomb making materials and an article allegedly taken from an Al-Qaeda publication entitled ‘Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.’
Abdo had applied for conscientious objector status to avoid being deployed to Afghanistan with his unit. That request was blocked after Abdo was arrested on charges of possession of child pornography.
“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 officials who diligently perform their duties,” Pitman said.
Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said the sentencing will ‘provide a sense of comfort to the residents of Killeen.’
“They will be pleased that Mr. Abdo will no longer be a threat to our community,” Baldwin said.