An AWOL U.S. soldier, arrested in Texas on Thursday, has reportedly admitted plotting an attack on Fort Hood, Texas, scene of an infamous 2009 gun rampage that killed 13. Naser Jason Abdo — a Muslim infantryman granted conscientious objector status last year due to his religious beliefs — will face federal charges. Though the "whole crazy mess" is still unfolding, early reports are in. What was Abdo allegedly planning, and how was he caught?
Who is Naser Jason Abdo?
He's a 21-year-old Army private who was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky. Abdo was raised in Texas by his Christian mother and Muslim father, and adopted Islam as his religion at age 17. He applied for release from the military as a conscientious objector, because he didn't want to participate in what he called an "unjust war" in Iraq and Afghanistan. His status was approved, but his discharge was suspended after he was charged with having 34 images depicting child pornography on his computer. He went AWOL over the July 4 weekend.
Did he have any connection to Fort Hood?
Abdo, who is reportedly of Palestinian descent, last year openly condemned the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, saying it ran "counter to what I believe in as a Muslim" — a confusing statement in light of subsequent events.
Why did police arrest him?
He had been under suspicion while still at Fort Campbell. In fact, investigators alarmed by "radical statements" he made after filing for his discharge were the ones who allegedly found the child pornography on his computer. But police only arrested him after receiving a tip from the Guns Galore store in Killeen, Texas — where Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased the weapons he has been accused of using to kill 13 people and wound 32 others at Fort Hood in 2009. One of the store's clerks, Greg Ebert, says Abdo entered the store Wednesday afternoon seeking gunpowder and other ammunition. Both the quantities in his shopping list and his demeanor raised suspicions. "There was clearly something wrong with him," Ebert said, as quoted by ABC News.
How did officers catch Abdo?
Members of the Killeen police department spotted his car and pulled him over. He had a pistol and what officers called extremist literature in his backpack. When they searched his motel room — just three miles from Fort Hood's main gate — they found gunpowder and other materials that could be used to make a bomb. He also reportedly had purchased an Army uniform with Fort Hood patches from a local surplus store.
What do police claim he was planning?
Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin says Abdo had concocted a "terror plot." Abdo reportedly told detectives he was going to attack Fort Hood soldiers to "get even" — although it was unclear what he meant. Law enforcement documents obtained by ABC News suggest Abdo intended to plant two bombs at a restaurant near Fort Hood that is popular with the base's soldiers — then pick off survivors with a pistol.