Published July 28, 2011
An Army private has been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to attack Fort Hood soldiers that authorities suggest was close to being carried out. The arrest, first reported by Fox News, comes nearly two years after a deadly shooting rampage at the base.
Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, an AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell in Kentucky, was arrested by the Killeen, Texas, Police Department near Fort Hood and remains in custody at the Killeen jail.
Abdo, 21, was found with weapons, explosives and jihadist materials at the time of his arrest, a senior Army source confirms to Fox News. He was arrested at around 2 p.m. Wednesday after someone called authorities to report a suspicious individual.
Eric Vasys, a spokesman with the FBI's San Antonio Office, said authorities found firearms and bomb making components inside Abdo's motel room. Sources also say Abdo was attempting to make a purchase at Guns Galore in Killeen, the same ammunition store where Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased weapons that were allegedly used to gun down 13 people and wound 30 others at the base on Nov. 5, 2009.
Sources said Abdo had enough materials to make two bombs, including 18 pounds of sugar and six pounds of smokeless gunpowder -- a possible trigger for an explosive. A pressure cooker was also found. Another counterterrorism source said the bomb making materials and methodology came "straight out of Inspire (a terrorist magazine) and an Al Qaeda explosives course manual."
Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin alluded to the severity of the threat at a news conference Thursday afternoon announcing the arrest.
"We we would probably be here today giving you a different briefing had he not been stopped," Baldwin said, and military personnel appeared to be the target.
ABC News reported, citing law enforcement documents, that the target wasn't the base itself but a nearby restaurant that is popular with personnel from Fort Hood.
Police in Killeen said their break in the case came from Guns Galore LLC -- the same gun store where Maj. Nidal Hasan bought a pistol used in the 2009 attack. Store clerk Greg Ebert said the man arrived by taxi Tuesday and bought 6 pounds of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semi-automatic pistol.
Ebert said he called authorities because he and his co-workers "felt uncomfortable with his overall demeanor and the fact he didn't know what the hell he was buying."
According to an Army alert sent via email and obtained by The Associated Press, Killeen police learned from the taxi company that Abdo had been picked up from a local motel and had also visited an Army surplus store where he paid cash for a uniform bearing Fort Hood unit patches.
Bob Jenkins, a Fort Campbell spokesman, told Fox News that Abdo was also being investigated for child pornography found on his government computer.
Abdo went AWOL on July 4. On the eve of his first deployment to Afghanistan -- after only one year in the Army -- Abdo applied for conscientious objector status as a Muslim. It was denied by his superiors at Fort Campbell but later overturned by the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Army review board.
Another source told Fox News that two other U.S. soldiers have been questioned as part of the investigation.
Abdo's Facebook page, which has since been taken down, showed that he traveled to New York City in September to attend an antiwar vigil and show support for Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged source for the classified war documents released by controversial group WikiLeaks.
Vasys said Abdo likely will be charged with being in possession of bomb-making materials. Killeen Chief Baldwin said the case would be referred for federal charges, though a Justice Department official would not confirm that.
In the 2009 shooting case, Maj. Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was arraigned on July 20 and is currently standing trial. His civilian lawyer withdrew from the case as it began.
Fox News' Maggie Kerkman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.