A Muslim U.S. soldier turned conscientious objector was jailed for life on Friday after being convicted of plotting to kill troops and their families from a military base.
The court had heard that Naser Jason Abdo, 22, planned to attack soldiers and their families from Fort Hood, a sprawling army installation northwest of the Texas state capital, Austin.
Manacled and wearing a mesh cover over his face because he had spat blood on three officers earlier this year, Abdo made a long, rambling statement that ended in a vow to pursue “jihad” for the rest of his life.
“I don’t ask the court for mercy because Allah is the one that gives mercy,” he declared.
Abdo was convicted in May of plotting to bomb a popular Chinese restaurant near the base and gun down patrons as they fled, using with a handgun fed by extended ammunition magazines.
At his sentencing, Abdo acted as his own attorney, giving a detailed explanation of how he had turned from an infantryman to jihadist.
Police and FBI agents arrested Abdo in July last year outside a motel a short drive from Fort Hood after being tipped off by a gun store clerk who grew concerned about his behavior while selling him smokeless gunpowder.
When they searched Abdo’s discount hotel room near the base, police found a handgun, enough gunpowder to make at least one bomb and directions culled from an Al-Qaeda publication on how to build an explosive device.
Witnesses also testified that Abdo had intended to kidnap a soldier and execute him on video. That plot, hatched while he was still assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, fell apart after he fled the state.
Authorities found body bags and bleach to clean up a crime scene. Abdo had also acquired a stun gun and a cattle prong.
One witness testified that Abdo told him that the attack was intended to show support for Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim military psychiatrist accused of killing 12 soldiers and a civilian in a 2009 shooting.
The FBI alleges that Hasan, who will go on trial on Aug. 20 at Fort Hood, had contacts with radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, a leading member of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Awlaqi was killed in a September 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
A series of email messages between the two indicated that Hasan talked of whether it was moral for Palestinians to kill Israeli civilians, but there was no indication that he actually sought permission to attack Fort Hood.
Abdo, however, made his intentions clear after his arrest.
“He stated he wanted to do it for the sake of the men and women of Afghanistan, that they had been wronged,” FBI agent Charles Michael Owens testified during the trial, citing an Abdo’s interrogation.