WACO, Texas — A US soldier of Palestinian descent had collected everything he needed to build a bomb and attack the area around a sprawling Texas military base, FBI agents told a court Thursday.
Army Private Naser Abdo, 21, had gathered gunpowder, clocks and pressure cookers to carry out a major strike.
“He said he was intending to make a massive attack in the Killeen-Fort Hood area,” Special Agent Michael Brogan testified.
At the end of the hour-long hearing, magistrate Judge Jeffrey Manske ordered Abdo back to jail without bond and referred his case to a grand jury.
Wearing a gray-striped prison uniform and manacled at his feet and hands, Abdo left the court in silence after defiantly crying out while being led from the room last week.
Brogan, a bomb expert, said he had examined the components found in Abdo’s backpack and a hotel room in Killeen when the soldier was arrested last month, and likened them to the kinds of materials he had seen used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq.
Abdo was a Muslim conscientious objector who was just a week from officially becoming a deserter. When questioned, he told officials he was “an AWOL soldier in the army, a conscientious objector charged with child pornography.”
Already facing a court-martial on child pornography charges, Abdo has been charged with one count of possessing an unregistered firearm. The offense carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $10,000 fine and three years of supervised release.
During an interview with FBI officials, Abdo admitted he planned to build two bombs in his budget hotel room by packing gun powder and shrapnel into pressure cookers he would then detonate at a restaurant popular with soldiers from Fort Hood, a massive US Army base in Texas, according to the affidavit.
Items found in his hotel room included a .40 caliber handgun, ammunition, an article from Al-Qaeda’s English-language magazine Inspire entitled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom” and bombmaking components.
The bombmaking materials included six bottles of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun shells, shotgun pellets, two clocks, two spools of auto wire, an electric drill and two pressure cookers, court documents said.
The weapons and ammunition were bought at the same Killeen store where Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan bought arms that military prosecutors say were used in a mass shooting at Fort Hood nearly two years ago.
That attack left 13 people dead and 32 wounded.
Attached to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Abdo had sought conscientious objector status to refuse deployment to Afghanistan, saying he could not fight fellow Muslims.
But after his status was granted in May, Abdo was charged with possession of child pornography on a computer. He then left Fort Campbell without permission in early July.