AWOL soldier who planned attack on Fort Hood soldiers sentenced to life
This June 14, 2011, file photo shows Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo in Nashville, Tenn. Abdo, a Muslim soldier who went AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky. / AP Photo
(CBS/AP) WACO, Texas - An AWOL soldier was sentenced to life in prison Friday for collecting bomb-making materials to carry out what he told authorities would be a "massive attack" on a Texas restaurant full of Fort Hood troops.
Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, a Muslim, was planning a religious mission to win "justice" for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a recorded jail conservation with his mother played for jurors at trial.
U.S. District Judge Walter Smith allowed Abdo to represent himself at the sentencing after the 22-year-old told the judge last month that he and his attorneys weren't communicating effectively.
Abdo, who was was sentenced to two life terms plus additional time, again appeared in federal court with a covering over his mouth after previously being accused of spitting blood on authorities who were escorting him. During earlier court appearances, he had also yelled out "Iraq 2006," the name of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was raped and murdered by a U.S. soldier in 2006 and "Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009," a reference to the earlier Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead. He wore striped jail clothing and had his hands shackled.
A federal jury convicted Abdo in May on six charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., when arrested with bomb-making materials last summer at a Fort Hood-area motel.
U.S. law enforcement sources told CBS News at the time that a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun, ammunition clips, more than 100 rounds of ammunition, a large quantity of smokeless gunpowder, batteries, clocks and a pressure cooker were found in Abdo's motel room. There was also evidence that he had been taking apart shotgun shells to remove the gunpowder to use the pellets as shrapnel in explosive devices.
He also was found guilty of attempted murder of U.S. officers or employees and four counts of possessing a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
In a recorded police interview, Abdo said he wanted to carry out the attack "because I don't appreciate what my unit did in Afghanistan." His plan, according to what he told authorities, was to place a bomb in a busy restaurant filled with soldiers, wait outside and shoot anyone who survived, and become a martyr after police killed him.
According to testimony, Abdo told an investigator he didn't plan an attack inside Fort Hood because he didn't believe he would be able to get past security at the gates.
Abdo grew up in the Dallas suburb of Garland and at age 17 decided to follow Islam. He enlisted in the military in 2009, thinking that the service wouldn't conflict with his religious beliefs.
But in an essay that was part of his conscientious objector status application filed in June 2010, Abdo wrote that he reconsidered as he explored Islam further.
Abdo said in his discharge request that other soldiers harassed him about his religion during basic and advanced training. As he neared deployment, he said he studied Islam more closely to learn "whether going to war was the right thing to do Islamically."
Abdo's unit was deployed to Afghanistan without him. He said he would refuse to go even if it resulted in a military charge against him.
His conscientious objector status was put on hold after he was charged with possessing child pornography in May 2011. Two months later, during the Fourth of July weekend, Abdo went AWOL from the Kentucky Army post.
In the essay included in the conscientious objector status application, Abdo described the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage that left 13 dead and dozens wounded as "an act of aggression by a man and not by Islam."
Maj. Nidal Hasan faces the death penalty in the shootings at the Army post if convicted. His court-martial is set for later this month at Fort Hood.
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