AWOL Garland Soldier Planned Attack On Killeen, Fort Hood
KILLEEN (CBSDFW.COM) – The FBI says bomb-making materials were found in the motel room of an AWOL Fort Campbell, Ky., soldier arrested Wednesday near Fort Hood.
Agency spokesman Erik Vasys said Thursday that firearms and “items that could be identified as bomb-making components, including gunpowder” were removed from Pfc. Nasser Jason Abdo’s Killeen motel room.
U.S. Army spokesman Troy Rolan says Abdo is a native of Garland.
Sources close to the investigation say Abdo told police he wanted to attack Army soldiers outside Fort Hood.
Law enforcement sources say that when he was arrested, Abdo told officers he was “seeking retaliation for what the Army did to me.” He also indicated that he was planning attacks against Fort Hood and the City of Killeen.
Earlier this year the Army charged Abdo, who was a member of the 101st Airborne Division, with possession of child pornography.
FBI spokesman Vasys says the FBI will charge Abdo with possessing bomb-making components. He’s in Killeen police custody but will be transferred to the FBI after he is formally charged.
“I would emphasize that any threat that Abdo posed is now over,” Vasys said. “Suffice it to say we’re looking into all aspects of Mr. Abdo’s life to determine his motivations and intentions.”
Killeen police received a call from a gun shop owner about a suspicious man in the store who was asking questions about .40-caliber ammunition and then bought three boxes of 12-gauge ammunition and a magazine for a pistol, a defense official said.
He paid cash, took a cab to a surplus store and allegedly bought a military uniform, the official said.
According to Killeen Police investigators, Abdo tried to purchase a large amount of smokeless gun powder, tipping off the gun shop owner. “This young man spends a few minutes in the shop… He selects six canisters. He puts them on the counter. The first red flag is when he asks what is smokeless powder. If you don’t know what it is, why would you buy six pounds of it?” Greg Ebert, the owner of Guns Galore in Killeen, told reporters.
After Abdo’s arrest, police searched his hotel room and found gunpowder, shotgun shells, 18 pounds of sugar, a pressure cooker, four magazines and more than 100 rounds of ammunition. Officers also found batteries and clocks in the room.
Congressman John Carter, whose district includes Fort Hood, told Killeen’s CBS affiliate KWTX-TV Thursday afternoon that Abdo planned to detonate two bombs at an unnamed restaurant near the post that Fort Hood personnel frequent and then planned to open fire on the diners.
“He was planning on going into a restaurant someplace that was heavily traveled by soldiers, set off the two bombs then come back in and finish everybody off with his gun,” he told the station.
Carter told KWTX Abdo had broken into an adjoining hotel room and was in the process of “cooking” the bombs at the time of his arrest.
During a news conference Thursday afternoon, Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin confirmed that “military personnel were the target of this suspect,” but declined to provide further details.
Police also found what’s described as “jihadist literature” in his backpack, CNN said.
The 21-year-old Muslim infantry soldier had been granted conscientious objector status earlier this year after he said his religious beliefs would prevent him from fighting in any war.
There is no evidence that he was directly in touch with any known terrorists. Abdo does not have any kind of lengthy criminal record.
Abdo’s conscientious objector discharge was delayed after he was charged with possessing child pornography. An Article 32 military hearing last month recommended Abdo for a court-martial. He has said he thought he had been charged with a crime because he was seeking to leave the Army as a conscientious objector.
An Oklahoma attorney who represented Abdo says he hasn’t heard from Abdo in weeks. He’s been AWOL since the July 4th weekend.
“I know probably as much as you,” said attorney James Branum. “I’ve been quite anxious to get in touch with him.”
Since being listed as AWOL from Fort Campbell, Abdo apparently has been moving around staying a number of different motels. It’s not clear how long he’d been in the motel where he was arrested.
Abdo attended 9th grade at South Garland High School before moving to the Waco area. Friends of family members remember Abdo working as an Army recruiter in the Garland area recently, but say Abdo mostly kept to himself.
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Army initially said Abdo spelled his first name “Naser.” Thursday afternoon, Killeen Police corrected that spelling and said he spells it “Nasser.” We have updated our story accordingly.
(© Copyright 2011 CBS Local. The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.)