A soldier convicted of amassing bomb-making materials and plotting an attack on a restaurant popular with soldiers in Fort Hood, Texas, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.
Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., when he was arrested with bomb-making materials on July 27, 2011, at America’s Best Value Inn and Suites in Killeen, Texas, near Fort Hood.
In May, a jury found him guilty on six federal charges: attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder of U.S. officers or employees and four counts of possessing a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
U.S. District Judge Walter allowed Abdo to represent himself at the sentencing after the 22-year-old told him in July that he and his attorneys weren't communicating effectively, The Associated Press reported.
According to the criminal complaint, Abdo had smokeless gunpowder, pressure cookers, clocks, shotgun shells and other components that could be used to build "destructive devices," and an article titled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.” He also had obtained a military uniform with Fort Hood patches.
In a recorded police interview, Abdo said he was planning to pull off an attack in the Fort Hood area "because I don't appreciate what my unit did in Afghanistan," according to an Associated Press report.
Defense attorneys argued for acquittal on grounds Abdo's plot did not go past the planning stage.
Abdo joined the army in April 2009.
But in 2010, he refused to deploy to Afghanistan with his unit, telling reporters at the time that he had come to believe it was at odds with his Muslim faith.
Abdo was granted conscientious objector status, but the Army put his discharge on hold after they allegedly discovered child pornography on Abdo’s computer. The private disappeared shortly after that case was referred to a general court-martial.
In an interview from jail with WSMV TV in November, Abdo said he was set up by the military and they never planned to let him leave.
"I felt like the only way to freedom or justice was martyrdom," he told the television station.
He began plotting to kidnap and execute on camera a high-ranking member of his Fort Campbell command who had participated in the Afghanistan mission, but then changed targets when military police learned about his purchases at a gun store, he told the WSMV reporter.
During Abdo's trial at the U.S. District Court in Waco, the army private shouted out the inspiration for his planned attack, according to The Los Angeles Times coverage:
"Nidal Hasan — Fort Hood 2009!" he yelled in an apparent reference to the shooting rampage allegedly by Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan at a medical facility on the base in November 2009 that left 13 dead and 32 wounded.
WSMV reported that Abdo had previously denounced that attack.
Hasan's trial is to begin on Aug. 20.
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