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Police: Arrest of Soldier Foiled "Terror Plot"

Police: Arrest of Soldier Foiled "Terror Plot"

Pfc. Naser Abdo. Abdo, 21, was arrested Wednesday and 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.

USAToday via YellowBrix

July 29, 2011

An AWOL soldier was arrested in Texas near Fort Hood after authorities found potential bomb-making materials and at least one gun in the suspect’s motel room, a federal law enforcement official said.

Pfc. Naser Abdo, 21, told investigators he was planning to attack fellow soldiers near the military post, where an Army psychiatrist was charged two years earlier in the slayings of 13 people, said a second federal law enforcement official.

Both officials asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Authorities were alerted to Abdo, who was stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, after he visited the same gun store in Killeen, Texas, where Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan obtained a gun prior to the 2009 attack at Fort Hood, one of the officials said.

Greg Ebert, a former police officer who works at the Guns Galore shop, said Abdo acted suspiciously when he went to the store Tuesday afternoon to buy 6 pounds of gun powder.

“First of all, the youngster arrives in a (taxi) cab and wants to buy something he knows nothing about,” Ebert said.

“There was very little conversation. The kid was downright rude,” he said.

“I thought it would be a good thing to call it in to police. We’re just grateful that the authorities responded as quickly as they did,” Ebert said.

FBI spokesman Erik Vasys said there was no evidence to indicate that others were working with the suspect.

“Whatever threat (Abdo) posed yesterday is resolved,” Vasys said.

Killeen police spokeswoman Carroll Smith said Abdo was arrested just after 2 p.m. Wednesday.

She said “suspicious materials” were later recovered in Abdo’s room at Americas Best Value Inn. Smith said the inn was evacuated for several hours during the search as a precaution.

At the time of the arrest, Abdo already had been charged by the military with possessing child pornography and was awaiting trial, Army spokesman Troy Rolan said.

Smith said Abdo was being held in Killeen without bail on a warrant issued by the military, pending the outcome of a federal investigation into the alleged threats against fellow soldiers and the materials recovered from his motel room.

Abdo was reported AWOL on July4 from Fort Campbell, according to Army records.

Attorney James Branum said Thursday that he represented Abdo on the pornography charges and during the soldier’s successful effort to obtain conscientious objector status, which was approved in May 2011.

His discharge had been delayed, however, pending the outcome of the child pornography charges brought by the military soon after.

Branum, who is not representing Abdo on this latest arrest in Killeen, said his client believed the military issued the pornography charges to block his discharge as a conscientious objector.

The attorney said the infantryman claimed objector status based on his Muslim faith, as he faced the prospect of deployment to Afghanistan.

He said his client had “reclaimed” his faith after joining the military in March 2009.

“I don’t know what to think of this stuff,” Branum said of Abdo’s arrest.

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