A soldier suspected of plotting a bomb and handgun attack against military personnel at Fort Hood, Texas, was using a bombmaking recipe from an Al Qaeda-linked online magazine, according to federal court documents released on Friday.
Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo has been charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device and ordered held without bond. At the time of his arrest on Wednesday, law-enforcement officials recovered a handgun, assorted bombmaking materials, and an article entitled, “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.”
The revelations came in an FBI affidavit filed in conjunction with a criminal complaint against Abdo.
There is no indication in the affidavit of any other contacts with Al Qaeda or other terror groups. Officials have said they believe Abdo was acting alone in his alleged plot.
Abdo reportedly made incriminating statements to police on Wednesday suggesting he was planning to attack military personnel at a restaurant in Killeen, Texas, near the base.
Abdo refused to cooperate during his initial appearance in federal court on Friday in Waco, Texas. As he was being led from the courtroom, he shouted the words: “Nidal Hasan, Fort Hood, 2009,” according to the Associated Press.
The outburst was a reference to a mass shooting by Army psychologist Mr. Hasan in November 2009 at Fort Hood. The attack left 13 dead and 32 wounded. Hasan is awaiting a military trial. He faces a potential death sentence.
The only apparent connection between Abdo and Hasan is that they are both Muslim-Americans who served in the US Army.
In 2010, he had applied for conscientious objector status, arguing that fighting as a US soldier in Afghanistan would be inconsistent with his religious beliefs as a Muslim. The Army had agreed to his discharge, and he did not deploy overseas with his unit. But in May before he was released from the military, he was charged with possession of child pornography. Abdo’s military trial on those charges is pending.
According to the FBI affidavit, at the time of his arrest by the Killeen Police Department, Abdo was carrying a backpack. In addition to the bombmaking article, it contained two clocks, two spools of wire, Winchester .40 caliber ammunition, and a Springfield .40 caliber handgun. He was also carrying a composition notebook with a list that included: “red black green wire; 9v bat, Christmas lights; pressure cooker; power drill; 160 gunpowder; gorilla tape; motal epoxy, glue; 1 small box of shotgun shells; cardboard box; gloves.”
Police and federal agents later searched his hotel room – No. 230 at America’s Best Value Inn and Suites in Killeen. Among items seized: “electric drill; two clocks; six bottles of smokeless gunpowder; five cut shotgun shells; three Springfield ammunition magazines; four razorblades; shotgun pellets; and two pressure cookers.”
According to the affidavit, Abdo was questioned by law-enforcement officials shortly after his arrest and confirmed his intention to carry out an attack.
“Abdo admitted that he planned to assemble two bombs in the hotel room using gun powder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers to detonate inside an unspecified restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood,” the affidavit says.
The plot was uncovered by the suspicions and quick thinking of a clerk and manager at the Guns Galore gun shop near the military base. Abdo reportedly asked the manager what "smokeless powder" was. The soldier then purchased six, one-pound containers of smokeless powder.
The gun store manager called police as soon as he left the shop.
If convicted of possessing an unregistered destructive device, Abdo faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.