AWOL soldier gets life sentence for Fort Hood plot
Los Angeles Times
HOUSTON — A federal judge in Waco, Texas, sentenced a former soldier to two consecutive life sentences, plus 60 years in prison, on Friday for plotting to bomb and shoot Fort Hood soldiers last year.
Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, 22, who represented himself after dismissing his court-appointed lawyers, told U.S. District Judge Walter Smith that he remained committed as a Muslim to pursuing a holy war.
“I have continued to answer the call of jihad and will continue to the day I am called to account for my deeds,” he said, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Abdo appeared defiant throughout the hearing, speaking in Arabic at times and translating for the court, federal prosecutors said. Abdo said he was motivated by what he called crimes committed by the U.S. and its military against Muslims.
He said he had tried to outdo Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of fatally shooting 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009.
“He intended to continue to do what he was doing; he was regretful he hadn’t succeeded as his brother Nidal had succeeded,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Frazier. “He asked the judge not to show him any mercy because only Allah can show him mercy.”
U.S. marshals forced Abdo to wear a black-and-white mesh mask during the hearing after he spit what he thought was HIV-infected blood on agents escorting him, Frazier said. The attack was described as one of several such assaults by Abdo on his guards.
“He continued to try to take the lives of other people in his mind after he was apprehended,” Frazier said.
Abdo was arrested July 27, 2011, at a motel outside Fort Hood after a gun store clerk in nearby Killeen, Texas, called police to alert them that Abdo had been acting suspiciously.
“This case was discovered before any tragedy happened due to the vigilance of citizens,” Frazier said.
A search of Abdo’s room and backpack revealed bomb-making equipment — including pressure cookers, clocks and electrical tape — plus a pistol and a bomb-assembly article from an English-language al-Qaida magazine.
Abdo, a Dallas-area native, became a Muslim as a teenager, enlisted in the Army in 2009 and applied to become a conscientious objector later that year while stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., Frazier said. His conscientious objector status was put on hold after he was charged with possessing child pornography in May 2011, and he went AWOL a couple of months later, Frazier said.
Abdo told investigators his plot was a response to the U.S. military’s mistreatment of fellow Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He had planned to detonate a homemade bomb inside a Killeen restaurant popular with Fort Hood soldiers, then shoot any survivors, according to testimony from his three-day trial in May. A jury found him guilty of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder and four weapons charges.
After the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman compared Abdo’s plot to recent mass shootings at a Denver-area movie theater and a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee.
“In the wake of the tragic events in Colorado and Wisconsin, this is yet another reminder that there are those among us who would use or plan to use violence to advance their twisted agenda,” Pitman said.
Pitman said the case demonstrated two important things. One, “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 officers who diligently perform their duties,” he said.
And two, “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 walls of a prison cell.”
Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said the sentencing “provides a sense of comfort to the Killeen residents, especially those affiliated with the military, that Mr. Abdo will no longer be a threat to our community.”
After the sentencing, Abdo was returned to McClennan County Jail in Waco. He was unavailable for comment as he awaited transfer to prison.