A soldier accused of planning to blow up a Texas restaurant frequented by Fort Hood soldiers is expected in federal court.
Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo is scheduled for a probable cause hearing Thursday in Waco. The 21-year-old was arrested last week at a hotel near the Army post.
Investigators say Abdo had a handgun and ingredients for an explosive device. He's being held without bond.
Abdo was approved as a conscientious objector this year after citing his Muslim beliefs. But that status was put on hold after he was charged with possessing child pornography. Last month, he went absent without leave from Kentucky's Fort Campbell.
After a hearing last week, Abdo shouted the name of the soldier charged in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that killed 13 people.
An AWOL U.S. soldier facing a court-martial was planning to detonate bombs sometime Thursday outside the U.S. military base at Fort Hood, Texas, where a gunman killed 13 people in 2009, authorities said.
Killeen, Texas, police arrested Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, 21, of Garland, Texas, on Wednesday afternoon at a motel near Fort Hood, Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said Thursday afternoon. He was arrested without incident and was being questioned at the Killeen City Jail by police, the FBI and Fort Hood investigators.
"Military personnel were targeted" at the base, Baldwin said at a news conference, confirming a report by NBC News early Thursday.
"I would call it a terror plot," he said. "We would probably have been giving a different briefing here if he had not been stopped."
Citing U.S. officials, NBC News' Pete Williams reported Thursday night that agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found enough explosives to make at least two time bombs. Officials said they believed Abdo planned to set off the bombs sometime Thursday just outside the post.
Abdo, an infantryman with the 1st Brigade Combat Team (Rear Provisional) of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., was arrested at an America's Best Value Inn on South Fort Hood Road, initially on a child pornography warrant stemming from an investigation at Fort Campbell.
Abdo went missing this month after he was recommended for a court-martial on those charges. Abdo, who has mounted an extensive public campaign to leave the Army, has denied he was involved in child pornography.
Tip from gun store
U.S. officials told NBC News that police went to Abdo's motel room on a tip from a gun dealer who said Abdo was asking suspicious questions about smokeless powder, a component often used in pipe bombs. The explosives were found in the room and in a backpack, officials said.
A U.S. military official said Abdo was overheard saying he wanted to attack Fort Hood and that he repeated the statement after he was in custody. Authorities said it was not clear whether his alleged intended targets were soldiers in general or specific individuals on the base.
In an in-house alert it sent to Army facilities worldwide, the Army Operations Center said the suspect "admitted to planning an attack on Fort Hood." He had a bomb, a gun, a "large quantity" of ammunition and an Army uniform, said the alert, which was first reported Thursday morning by The Army Times.
Police would not confirm the information in the alert, saying they could not comment on specifics of an ongoing investigation. They did say, however, that Abdo would likely be charged with possession of bomb-making materials and transferred to federal custody.
Fort Hood, the largest U.S. military base in the world, was the scene of a mass shooting that killed 13 people in November 2009, and the gun store where Abdo was first identified by a clerk, Guns Galore in Killeen, was the same shop where the suspect in the 2009 shootings, bought the gun, ammunition and laser sights that he allegedly used.
The reports Thursday raised concerns that a possible repeat attack may have been in the works. But Erik Vasys, a spokesman for the FBI in San Antonio, said it appeared that Abdo was acting alone and that the threat "has been eliminated and mitigated."
Baldwin agreed, saying, "We are not aware of any additional threats."
Child porn charges block discharge as conscientious objector
Abdo sought conscientious objector status last year, arguing that his Muslim beliefs prohibited military service. The Army approved his application in May, then, two days later, it charged him with possession of child pornography, which put his discharge on hold, he said on a Facebook page.
The page has since been removed, but Fort Hood confirmed Thursday that Abdo's conscientious objector application was approved "in May 2011" and that he was then charged with possession of child pornography on May 13.
"Since he is in the custody of civilian authorities, jurisdiction over any potential new charges is yet to be determined," the base said in a statement. "If returned to military control, he may face additional charges including AWOL."
Shortly before the Article 32 hearing last month that recommended he face a court-martial, Abdo told NBC station WSMV-TV of Nashville, Tenn.: "I did not put child pornography on the government computer." He said the timing of the charges "sounds pretty fishy."
A spokesman for the military said the charges were "completely unrelated" to Abdo's conscientious objector application.
Abdo's campaign to leave the Army got considerable coverage beginning in August, when he gave several televised interviews.
"As my time came near to deployment, I started asking the question more seriously whether God would accept what I was doing and whether I was really meant to go to war, as opposed to the peace that Islam preaches," he said in an August interview with Headline News. He made similar comments in interviews with al-Jazeera.
As recently as June, Abdo was pursuing his battle on the Facebook page, where he described himself as "engaged in a struggle against religious discrimination and for freedom of conscience in the US Army."
The last update was June 21, thanking his supporters. In his next-to-last update, posted nine minutes earlier, he wrote that he could not find a way to delete the account and so "after this update I will be leaving." He did not say where he was going.
James Branum, the lawyer who represented Abdo during his proceedings at Fort Campbell, told the New York Daily News that he had not heard from his client "for quite a while."
"I'm not sure what to think about this," Branum said.
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