WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 (UPI) — A U.S. soldier who allegedly planned a bombing and shooting attack on troops from Fort Hood, Texas, has been charged in U.S. District Court.
U.S. Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, an infantryman with the 101st Airborne, has initially been charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device.
Abdo, 21, of Garland, Texas, was arrested in Killeen, Texas, July 27 after an employee of a gun store called police to report that Abdo, who had acted suspiciously, purchased ammunition and smokeless gunpowder.
A search of his motel room near Fort Hood turned up enough bomb making materials for two explosive devices, officials said.
“He was all ready to go,” an unidentified law enforcement source was quoted as saying.
Abdo, of Jordanian descent, is the third Muslim soldier since the Sept. 11, 2011, terror attack on the United States to be charged with terror-related offenses.
In March 2003, Sgt. Hasan Karim Akbar, born Mark Fidel Kools, killed two officers and wounded 14 other soldiers of the 101st Airborne in a grenade and shooting attack in Kuwait at the start of the Iraq war.
Thirteen people were killed and 32 wounded at a Fort Hood medical facility in 2009 in a shooting. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist, has been charged with the shootings. He was about to be deployed to Afghanistan.
“Frankly, I’m … concerned that this increased speculation could cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers,” Army Gen. George Casey, then Army chief of staff said of a possible distrust of Muslim troops by non-Muslim soldiers.
“As great a tragedy as this was, it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.”
In all three instances, no connection to a larger plot has been uncovered. All three seem to be “Lone Wolves.” Akbar, who is awaiting execution, apparently acted out of personal grudges; Hasan, who is awaiting court-martial proceedings, is said have shown mental instability prior to the shooting spree but was also allegedly influenced by the writings of Anwar Awlaki, a U.S.-born leader in al-Qaida.
Abdo, who faces additional charges, purportedly received bomb-making instructions from a jihadist Web site but no real connection to a terrorist cell has been found.
Like Hasan, Abdo faced deployment to Afghanistan but was being processed out of the Army after obtaining Conscientious Objector status. Discharge, however, was put on hold and Abdo was absent without leave from Fort Campbell, Ky., July 4 when child pornography was allegedly found on his government-issued computer and he faced trial because of it.
“The homegrown violent extremist threat is one of the serious terrorism threats we face inside the homeland outside of al Qaeda and its affiliates,” said Mark F. Giuliano, assistant director of the FBI’s counter-terrorism division. “It is a rapidly evolving threat with characteristics that are constantly changing due to external experiences and motivational factors.
“We … have seen individuals inside the United States become radicalized and motivated to conduct attacks against the homeland. These individuals can be as diverse as U.S.-born citizens, naturalized U.S. citizens, foreign students, green card holders or illegal immigrants but the commonality is their desire to strike inside the United States.
“Second, we have seen U.S. citizens become radicalized in the United States and travel or attempt to travel overseas to obtain training and return to the United States or to join and fight with groups overseas.
“Lastly, we have seen U.S. citizens become radicalized and use the Internet to further their radicalization, contribute to the radicalization of others, or provide services to facilitate Internet radicalization. Whereas the Internet was previously used to spread propaganda, it is now used in recruiting, radicalizing, training and inciting terrorism. Thousands of extremist Web sites promote violence to a worldwide audience predisposed to the extremist message and more of these Web sites and U.S. citizens are involved in Internet radicalization,” he said last April.
Abdo and Hasan appear to fall into the third category.
Although recent incidents involving Muslim extremists in the United States is a vexing security issue, so is domestic extremism for other causes, real or imagined.
Former soldiers Timothy McVeigh and accomplice Terry Nichols killed 168 people in a 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski killed three people and wounded many others during a 20-year mail-bomb campaign against industrial society, for example.
And neither is violent, domestic extremism in Western societies a peculiarly American phenomenon and danger.
The bombing and shooting spree in Norway this month by Anders Breivik allegedly to spark an uprising against Muslim immigration is a case in point.