WACO, Texas (AP) — Explosives experts found evidence of a bomb in the making — a pressure cooker containing smokeless powder and other material — in the Texas motel room of a soldier accused of planning to blow up Fort Hood troops, according to testimony at his federal trial Wednesday.
After Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo was detained in July at motel in Killeen, authorities searching his backpack found a loaded handgun, components to make an explosive device, a handwritten list of items and an article about making bombs, said Sgt. 1st Class Brad Grimes with Fort Hood's Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit. He told jurors he considered those items a "viable threat," so investigators got a search warrant for Abdo's motel room, where they discovered the pressure cooker and materials to make a bomb, as well as a stun gun.
Abdo, 22, a Muslim soldier who was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., is accused of planning to detonate a bomb inside a restaurant frequented by Fort Hood troops and then shoot any survivors. He faces up to life in federal prison if convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and five other charges.
Killeen police Sgt. Eric Bradley told jurors earlier Wednesday that officers began investigating July 26 after a gun store employee reported that a young man acted suspiciously when he bought 6 pounds of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semiautomatic pistol, while seeming to know little about the items. Bradley told jurors in U.S. District Court in Waco that he learned where the man was staying from a cab company who gave him a ride, but didn't see the man when he went to the motel that night.
However, police did not do surveillance on the motel overnight and did not return until the next afternoon, Bradley acknowledged during cross-examination. Bradley said that's when they saw someone matching the man's description walk through the lobby toward a waiting cab — and they jumped up to detain him.
Although investigators had seen no evidence the man had done anything illegal, officers had reason to detain him because of the things he bought at the gun and Army surplus stores and because he was carrying a full backpack, Bradley testified.
Officers finally learned Abdo's name and details of his plans when he was questioned in the back of a patrol car, according to a recording played in court Wednesday.
In the muffled recording, Abdo can be heard telling Bradley that he was planning to pull off an attack in the Fort Hood area "because I don't appreciate what my unit did in Afghanistan."
Abdo told investigators that he expected to be killed or arrested after the attack and that he wanted to be a martyr for what he considers the U.S. military's wrongful treatment of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to previous court testimony.
Prosecutors have said Abdo was stopped by authorities just hours before assembling the bomb. Defense attorneys have said that no bomb was built and that simply having some items does not make him guilty of the charges against him.
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