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Soldier: “I have continued to answer the call of jihad and will continue to”

By Chuck Lindell, Austin American-Statesman –

WACO, Texas — A federal judge Friday sentenced Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo to two consecutive life sentences, plus 60 years in prison for plotting to bomb and shoot Fort Hood soldiers in 2011.

Abdo, who represented himself at the sentencing hearing after dismissing his court-appointed lawyers last month, told U.S. District Judge Walter Smith that he remains committed to “jihad,” an Arabic word meaning struggle, that in some Islamic contexts can mean holy war.

“I don’t ask the court for mercy because Allah is the one who gives me mercy,” Adbo said, referring to God in Arabic. He said he was motivated by what he called crimes committed by the U.S. and the U.S. military against Muslims.

“I have continued to answer the call of jihad and will continue to the day I am called to account for my deeds,” he continued.

Abdo was wearing a black and gray striped prison uniform, his ankles and wrists shackled and wearing a mask. Prosecutors said he had previously cut his lip and spit blood on three occasions at prison guards and a deputy U.S. Marshal, mistakenly believing he was attempting to infect them with HIV. Adbo has been found not to be infected with the virus, prosecutor Mark Frazier said.

According to testimony at his three-day trial in May, Abdo planned to detonate a homemade bomb inside a Killeen, Texas, restaurant popular with Fort Hood soldiers, then shoot survivors during the attack.

He was arrested in July 2011 at a motel outside Fort Hood after a Killeen gun store clerk called police to report that Abdo had been acting suspiciously — wearing dark sunglasses, acting aggressively and seeming to know little about the items he was purchasing, including six pounds of gunpowder and shotgun ammunition.

A search of his room and backpack found bomb-making equipment — including pressure cookers, clocks and electrical tape — a pistol and an article on assembling bombs from an English-language al-Qaida magazine.

Abdo, a Muslim involved in a highly publicized battle to obtain conscientious objector status while stationed at the Fort Campbell Army post in Kentucky, later told investigators that his attack was in response to what he considered the U.S. military’s wrongful treatment of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Abdo was absent without leave from Fort Campbell when he was arrested.

Jurors deliberated for little more than an hour before finding Abdo guilty of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder and four weapons charges.

Sentencing was originally scheduled for Thursday but was postponed until Friday after Abdo complained that he had not been properly informed about a scheduling change for the hearing.

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