KILLEEN, Texas -- An AWOL soldier who had weapons stashed in a motel room near Fort Hood has admitted planning an attack on the Texas post, where 13 people died in 2009 in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation, the Army said in an alert issued yesterday.
Pfc. Naser Abdo, 21, who was granted conscientious objector status this year after he said his Muslim beliefs prevented him from fighting, was arrested Wednesday. Agents found firearms and "items that could be identified as bomb-making components, including gunpowder," in his motel room, according to FBI spokesman Erik Vasys.
The Army alert sent via email and obtained by The Associated Press says Killeen police arrested Abdo after a tip from the owners of a gun shop and that he "was in possession of a large quantity of ammunition, weapons and a bomb inside a backpack." Upon questioning, the alert says, he admitted planning an attack on Fort Hood.
Abdo, an infantryman from Fort Campbell, Ky., whose hometown is Garland, Texas, applied for conscientious objector status last year. A military review board recommended this spring that he be separated from the Army, but the discharge was delayed after Abdo was charged with possessing child pornography.
An Article 32 military hearing last month recommended he be court-martialed; he went absent without leave during the Fourth of July weekend.
Abdo told an AP reporter a week later that he was concerned about his safety and had considered purchasing a gun for protection.
The military's criminal investigation division, along with the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force, also investigated Abdo earlier this year after he was flagged for making unspecified anti-American comments while taking a language class in April, according to a U.S. official briefed on the investigation.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said neither the military nor the task force discovered anything at the time to indicate Abdo was planning an attack.
Abdo's arrest came after the owners of a local gun store, the same store where the 2009 Fort Hood shootings suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan bought a pistol used in the attack, called police, the Army's alert said.
Store clerk Greg Ebert said the man arrived at Guns Galore LLC by taxi Tuesday and bought 6 pounds of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semiautomatic pistol, paying about $250. Ebert said he became concerned when the man asked questions indicating he didn't know much about the items.