Naser Jason Abdo (Sketch by Gary Myrick)
WACO (May 24, 2012)—A Waco jury returned a guilty verdict Thursday afternoon in the trial of AWOL Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, 22, who’s accused of plotting to detonate a bomb in a Killeen restaurant frequented by soldiers.
Jurors deliberated for about an hour before finding Abdo guilty on all six counts.
Abdo was charged with one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, 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, two counts of possession of a destructive device in furtherance of a federal crime of violence.
The most serious charge, attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, could land him in prison for life.
U.S. District Judge Walter Smith set sentencing for July 20, but will consider a request to move it to August.
The defense and prosecution both declined to comment immediately after the verdict because of a gag order issued before the start of the trial, but in a press release issued late Thursday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Robert Pittman, credited a local resident’s report for averting the planned attack.
“It's important to note that this plot was interrupted and a potential tragedy prevented because an alert citizen notified law enforcement of suspicious activity, triggering prompt investigation and intervention,” Pittman said.
“ While we in law enforcement will be aggressive in investigating and prosecuting people like Mr. Abdo, we depend on the vigilance of the public in helping ensure the safety of the community,” he said.
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 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.
In closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors said Abdo, at the time of his arrest, was in the process of assembling a homemade bomb, which he planned to detonate in a Fort Hood area restaurant frequented by Fort Hood Soldiers.
The defense countered that prosecutors didn’t prove that Abdo actually intended to use the bomb, or that he necessarily had adequate instructions and the expertise to build one.
Prosecutors rested their case earlier Thursday after showing jurors a video of the detonation of a bomb made by an FBI expert.
Agent Richard Stryker testified that to make the device he used most of the same materials that were found in Abdo's backpack and motel room when Abdo was detained at a Fort Hood-area motel in July 2011.
After prosecutors wrapped up their case, the defense questioned three Killeen police officers who were present at the time of the arrest about Abdo’s Miranda warning.
Abdo did not testify.
The judge and attorneys were at work on jury instructions just before noon.
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.
He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's Company E, 1st Brigade Combat Team (Rear Provisional) at the time of his arrest.