WACO — A federal jury on Thursday convicted an AWOL Muslim soldier of attempting to blow up a Texas restaurant full of Fort Hood troops.
The Waco jury convicted Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo of the most serious charge, attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, which could land him in prison for life. Abdo also was convicted of attempted murder of U.S. officers or employees, and four counts of possessing a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
Authorities arrested Abdo at a Killeen motel last July while he was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky. Prosecutors say he had begun making a bomb and was angry about the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In a recorded police interview, Abdo said he was planning to pull off an attack in the Fort Hood area "because I don't appreciate what my unit did in Afghanistan."
During closing arguments, prosecutors said he had begun making an explosive device in the Killeen motel room where he was staying before he was detained in July, after he went AWOL from Fort Campbell. Authorities found numerous bomb-making components, a loaded gun, 143 rounds of ammunition, a stun gun and other items in his backpack and room.
"He was targeting soldiers because he didn't like what the Army was doing in Afghanistan," prosecutor Lawrence Schneider told jurors in U.S. District Court in Waco.
But Zach Boyd, Abdo's lead attorney, said told jurors that Abdo should be acquitted because his plan never progressed beyond preparation.
Killeen police began investigating Abdo on July 26 after a gun store employee reported a young man bought 6 pounds of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semiautomatic pistol, while behaving in an odd manner and seeming to know little about his purchases, according to the store manager.