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AWOL soldier defiant in first court appearance

WACO, Texas (AP) - An AWOL soldier accused of plotting to launch
an attack on Fort Hood was defiant during his first court
appearance on Friday, yelling out the name of the Army psychiatrist
blamed in the 2009 deadly shooting rampage at the same Texas base.
Federal prosecutors charged 21-year-old Pfc. Naser Abdo with
possessing an illegal firearm, two days after he was arrested at a
motel about 3 miles from the front gate of Fort Hood. He told
authorities he planned to construct two bombs in the motel room
using gunpowder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers and then
detonate the explosives at a restaurant frequented by soldiers,
court documents released Friday said.
Abdo, who had requested conscientious objector status because
his Muslim beliefs prevented him from fighting in Iraq and
Afghanistan. refused to stand up during Friday's court hearing when
asked.
As he was being led out of the courtroom, he yelled out "Iraq
2006" and the name of the 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was raped and
murdered in 2006 by a U.S. soldier. He then shouted: "Nidal Hasan
Fort Hood 2009."
Hasan, an Army major and psychiatrist, is charged in the 2009
deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood in the worst mass shooting ever on
a U.S. military installation.
Abdo's words in court were a sharp contrast to an essay he wrote
last year as the first anniversary of the Fort Hood shootings
approached and as he petitioned for conscientious objector status.
In the essay, obtained by The Associated Press, Abdo said the
attacks ran against his beliefs as a Muslim and were "an act of
aggression by a man and not by Islam."
Abdo was approved as a conscientious objector this year, but
that status was put on hold after he was charged with possessing
child pornography. He went absent without leave from Fort Campbell,
Ky., during the July 4 weekend.
On July 3, Abdo tried to buy a gun at a store near Fort
Campbell, according to the company that owns the store. Police in
Killeen, where Fort Hood is located, said their break in the case
came Tuesday from Guns Galore LLC - the same gun store where Hasan
bought a pistol used in the 2009 attack. Store clerk Greg Ebert
said Abdo arrived by taxi and bought 6 pounds of smokeless
gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a
semi-automatic pistol.
"We would probably be here today, giving you a different
briefing, had he not been stopped," said Killeen Police Chief
Dennis Baldwin, who called the plan "a terror plot."
Authorities said they found two clocks, spools of auto wire, a
Winchester .40 caliber ammunition and a handgun in a backpack,
according to court documents. They also discovered an article
titled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom," the same title
of a how-to article featured in Inspire, the English-language
magazine by the terror group based in Yemen, al-Qaida in the
Arabian Peninsula.
It was not immediately known if Abdo had any connections to
terror groups or Hasan. He was ordered held without bond on charges
of possession of an unregistered destructive device in connection
with a bomb plot. His court-appointed attorney did not plan to
comment Friday.
James Branum, an Oklahoma attorney who had been representing
Abdo on the child pornography charges, said Friday he had not heard
from Abdo.
He said Abdo was "stressed and anxious" about the child
pornography charges but "I didn't see any indication he would do
anything like this. ... I would not have taken the case if I had
any indication of this kind of mindset."
In several writings by Abdo obtained by the AP portray a devout
infantry soldier struggling with his faith while facing the
prospect of deployment and what he felt was the scorn of his peers.
"Overall, as a Muslim I feel that I will not be able to carry
out my military duties due to my conscientious objection," Abdo
wrote in his application for conscientious objector status.
"Therefore, unless I separate myself from the military, I would
potentially be putting the soldiers I work with in jeopardy.
FBI, police and military officials have said little about
whether or how they were tracking Abdo since he left Fort Campbell.
Patrick J. Connor, special agent in charge with Army Criminal
Investigation Command at Fort Hood, said efforts had been made to
locate him after an arrest warrant was issued but he would not
elaborate.
Abdo grew up in Garland, a Dallas suburb about 170 miles from
Fort Hood. In his essay, which he sent to the AP last year as he
made his conscientious-objector plea, he said his mother is
Christian and his father is Muslim, and that he decided to follow
Islam when he was 17.
He wrote that he joined the Army believing he could serve in the
military and honor his religion, but he ended up having to endure
insults and threats from fellow soldiers over his religion during
basic and advanced training. He said life was better after he
arrived at his first duty station, but that he studied Islam more
closely as he neared deployment to learn "whether going to war was
the right thing to do Islamically."
"I began to understand and believe that only God can give
legitimacy to war and not humankind," he wrote. "That's when I
realized my conscience would not allow me to deploy."
His application was filed in June 2010. The Army's Conscientious
Objector Review board denied his request, but the deputy assistant
secretary of the Army Review Boards Agency recommended he be
separated from the Army as a conscientious objector. The discharge
was delayed when he was charged with possession of child
pornography on May 13.
Fort Campbell civilian spokesman Bob Jenkins said Abdo had been
aware of the child pornography investigation since November.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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