WACO (August 10, 2012)—Army Pfc. Jason Abdo, 22, the AWOL soldier convicted of plotting to blow up a restaurant full of Fort Hood troops as part of his religious mission, will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Sitting in the courtroom Friday morning with his face and mouth covered, Abdo said he asked for no mercy from the court because Allah would grant him mercy.
Then U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith showed him none, imposing two consecutive life prison sentences for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and for possession of a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
Smith also sentenced Abdo to a total of 60 consecutive years imprisonment for one count of attempted murder of officers or employees of the United States, two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a federal crime of violence, and one count of possession of a weapon in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
Smith also ordered Abdo to pay a total of $3,000 in fines and a $100 special assessment to the court.
Abdo will be transferred from Waco to a federal prison in Marion, Ill., Florence, Colo. or Terre Haute, Ind., as soon as the Bureau of Prisons can find space, but because he’s a high-risk inmate, that should happen within 30 days, officials said.
"This sentencing today provides a sense of comfort to the Killeen residents especially those affiliated with the military that Mr. Abdo will no longer be a threat to our community," Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said.
Because of earlier incidents in which he spat at officers, Abdo's face was covered with a white cloth and his head with a black mesh cap that also covered his face from the nose up.
He had claimed to be HIV positive, but in court Friday authorities say he is not.
Abdo said he came to Killeen on Jihad after he was falsely accused of possessing child pornography at Fort Campbell, Ky., and in a statement that lasted for more than 30 minutes, he said his path to Jihad would continue and that he would be given justice under Allah.
He also told the court he was being persecuted because he is a Muslim.
"This case serves as another reminder of the need for vigilance against extremists both at home and abroad," said Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general for national security, after the sentencing.
Abdo’s sentencing was moved from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning in U.S. District Court in Waco after Abdo requested a one-day delay to better prepare for the hearing.
Abdo represented himself after Smith granted his request last month to fire his attorneys.
Abdo said that he and his attorneys weren't communicating effectively.
He was convicted in May on six federal charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
During a news conference after the sentencing, lead prosecutor Mark Frazier said Abdo was planned to assemble the bomb on the day he was arrested and was closer to carrying out the plot than was first apparent.
Abdo was arrested on July 27, 2011, at a hotel in Killeen after a clerk at a local gun store alerted authorities about a man who bought a quantity of gunpowder.
The original indictment against him alleges that Abdo had shotgun shells and pellets, six containers of smokeless gunpowder, two clocks, two spools of auto wire, an electric drill, two pressure cookers and instructions on how to build a bomb.
"This prosecution demonstrates two important points," United States Attorney Robert Pitman said Friday.
"First, the prevention of tragic events such as Mr. Abdo was planning can be averted by alert citizens who pass along their concerns to law enforcement officials and by law enforcement officers who diligently perform their duties. And second, that those who use or plan violence to further their twisted agendas will be prosecuted as aggressively as the law allows and will, as in this case, spend the rest of their lives staring at the walls of a prison cell."
Abdo, who's from Garland, joined the Army in March 2009.
He went AWOL on July 4, 2011, on the eve of his first deployment to Afghanistan.
In November 2011 he told a television station in Tennessee he was originally planning an attack on his home base of Fort Campbell, Ky.
He told WSMV-TV in Nashville his target at the base on the Kentucky-Tennessee line was a high-ranking official whom he did not name.