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Exclusive: Peace group tried to scrub involvement with soldier linked to Ft. Hood plot

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, July 28, 2011 16:56 EDT
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Pfc. Nasser Abdo, the 21-year-old soldier arrested Thursday in connection with an alleged plot to attack Fort Hood, had ties to a number of prominent anti-war organizations, including Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist, Raw Story can confirm.

Abdo, who went AWOL from duty over the July 4 weekend after being charged with possession of child pornography, was an applicant for conscientious objector (CO) status, supported by the Oakland-based GI rights group Courage to Resist. In turn, his efforts to resist deployment were supported by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), one of the best-known anti-war groups in the nation.

He was arrested Thursday outside Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas, after police received a tip informing them that Abdo had purchased firearms with cash, from the same gun store that Major Nidal Hasan visited before murdering 13 of his fellow soldiers in 2009.

In the wake of Abdo’s arrest, Courage to Resist removed a page on their website that detailed Abdo’s plight, but it was preserved through Google cache. Reached by Raw Story, Jeff Paterson, the group’s project director, acknowledged that they had tried to cover up their involvement with the soldier and said they would be issuing a statement in the coming hours.

He added that his impression of Abdo was a young man with “mental health issues” who was “very difficult to work with.”

“I worked with him last August, in order to help formulate his application as a conscientious objector, then we helped formulate his legal appeals for the objector process,” Paterson said. “Then he got hit with pornography charges on his laptop, at which point we told him that we would help him through the resolution of his objection issues, but he would have to find himself legal defense separate for these criminal matters.”

“We’re shocked [at Abdo's arrest],” Paterson said. “I believe he had some significant mental health issues that became apparent as we worked with him. He had a particular version of Islam that was certainly … He was disrespectful to women. These were the kinds of issues we argued over late last year. It’s not a religious thing, it’s a matter of human decency.”

“He was a very difficult young man to work with. Our statement is that we hope people don’t think of conscientious objectors as homicidal.”

IVAW, similarly, admitted to Raw Story that they also worked with Abdo, but a spokesperson who asked not to be named said they absolutely condemn his alleged actions.

“We have worked with him in the past, but he was not ever a member of this organization,” the spokesperson said. “We have had three interactions with him in the past: We supported his application as a conscientious objector; we publicized a statement by him condemning Islamophobia; and finally, he lended his support to our ‘Operation Recovery’ campaign last Veteran’s Day. Besides that, we do not have a concrete link with him.

“IVAW is committed to nonviolence. We do not condone any sort of violence against the military or any individual.”

The spokesperson added that they had no comment about Abdo’s mental health.

“We support conscientious objection, so he was someone who was brought onto our radar because of that.”

Abdo was the first Muslim soldier to seek CO status due to his faith. In televised interviews, he claimed that his beliefs would not permit him to kill other Muslims.

In spite of this claim, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy said last year that he should not be granted CO status and instead face a military tribunal for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan.

A message left for Abdo’s attorney went unreturned.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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