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AWOL U.S. Soldier Gets Life Sentence in Fort Hood Plot

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. Army soldier convicted of plotting to kill American military members by detonating a bomb near Fort Hood, Texas, was sentenced to life in prison.

Naser Jason Abdo, who was absent without leave from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, at the time of his July 2011 arrest, received two life terms in prison today from U.S. District Judge Walter Smith in Waco, Texas, after a jury found him guilty of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder of U.S. personnel and other weapons charges.

“This case serves as another reminder of the need for vigilance against extremists both at home and abroad,” Lisa Monaco, head of the Justice Department’s national security division, said in an e-mailed statement. “I thank the many federal, state and local law enforcement officials who thwarted Abdo’s plot and were responsible for this successful prosecution.”

Abdo, 22, was arrested at a hotel in Killeen, Texas, about three miles from Fort Hood, the largest active-duty armored post, according to the base’s website. Abdo told police officers that he had explosives and “intended to conduct an attack against Killeen and Fort Hood,” according to an affidavit filed by James Runkel, an FBI special agent.

Handgun Found

His backpack contained two clocks, spools of wire, a .40-caliber handgun, ammunition and an article entitled “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom,” according to the affidavit. When police searched his room they found six bottles of smokeless gunpowder, five cut shotgun shells, shotgun pellets and two pressure cookers, Runkel said.

“Abdo admitted he planned to assemble two bombs in the hotel room using gun powder shrapnel packed into pressure cookers to detonate inside an unspecified restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood,” Runkel said in the July 28, 2011, affidavit.

After detonating the explosives, Abdo planned to shoot any survivors, according to a Justice Department statement.

In 2009, Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army major, allegedly shot and killed 13 people at the base. Hasan, who was wounded by police and is awaiting trial, had been communicating by e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born radical cleric who was part of al-Qaeda in Yemen. Al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike last year.

The case is U.S. v. Abdo, 11-cr-00182, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Waco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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