Naser Abdo

Scott Dickson of the Killeen Police Department holds a sign of Pfc. Naser Abdo on Thursday July 28, 2011. Abdo, an AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell, Kentucky was found with suspicious materials upon his arrest. (AP Photo/Stephen M. Keller)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

WACO, Texas — An AWOL soldier accused of plotting to launch an attack on Fort Hood was defiant during his first court appearance on Friday, yelling out the name of the Army psychiatrist blamed in the 2009 deadly shooting rampage at the same Texas base.

Federal prosecutors charged 21-year-old Pfc. Naser Abdo with possessing an illegal firearm, two days after he was arrested at a motel about 3 miles from the front gate of Fort Hood. He told authorities he planned to construct two bombs in the motel room using gunpowder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers and then detonate the explosives at a restaurant frequented by soldiers, court documents released Friday said.

Abdo, who had requested conscientious objector status because his Muslim beliefs prevented him from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, refused to stand up during Friday's court hearing when asked. As he left the room, he shouted: "Nidal Hasan Fort Hood 2009."

Hasan, an Army major and psychiatrist, is charged in the 2009 deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation.

Abdo's words in court were a sharp contrast to an essay he wrote last year as the first anniversary of the Fort Hood shootings approached and as he petitioned for conscientious objector status. In the essay, obtained by The Associated Press, Abdo said the attacks ran against his beliefs as a Muslim and were "an act of aggression by a man and not by Islam."

Abdo was approved as a conscientious objector this year, but that status was put on hold after he was charged with possessing child pornography. He went absent without leave from Fort Campbell, Ky., during the July 4 weekend.

On July 3, Abdo tried to buy a gun at a store near the Kentucky post, according to the company that owns the store. Police in Killeen, where Fort Hood is located, said their break in the case came Tuesday from Guns Galore LLC — the same gun store where Hasan bought a pistol used in the 2009 attack. Store clerk Greg Ebert said Abdo arrived by taxi and bought 6 pounds of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semi-automatic pistol.

"We would probably be here today, giving you a different briefing, had he not been stopped," said Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin, who called the plan "a terror plot."

Authorities said they found two clocks, spools of auto wire, a Winchester .40 caliber ammunition and a handgun in a backpack, according to court documents. They also discovered an article titled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom," the same title of a how-to article featured in Inspire, the English-language magazine by the terror group based in Yemen, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

It was not immediately known of Abdo had any connections to terror groups or Hasan. James Branum, an Oklahoma attorney who had been representing Abdo on the child pornography charges, said Friday he had not heard from Abdo.

He said Abdo was "stressed and anxious" about the child pornography charges but "I didn't see any indication he would do anything like this. ... I would not have taken the case if I had any indication of this kind of mindset."

In several writings by Abdo obtained by the AP portray a devout infantry soldier struggling with his faith while facing the prospect of deployment and what he felt was the scorn of his peers.

"Overall, as a Muslim I feel that I will not be able to carry out my military duties due to my conscientious objection," Abdo wrote in his application for conscientious objector status. "Therefore, unless I separate myself from the military, I would potentially be putting the soldiers I work with in jeopardy.

FBI, police and military officials have said little about whether or how they were tracking Abdo since he left Fort Campbell. Patrick J. Connor, special agent in charge with Army Criminal Investigation Command at Fort Hood, said efforts had been made to locate him after an arrest warrant was issued but he would not elaborate.

Abdo grew up in Garland, a Dallas suburb about 170 miles from Fort Hood. In his essay, which he sent to the AP last year as he made his conscientious-objector plea, he said his mother is Christian and his father is Muslim, and that he decided to follow Islam when he was 17.

He wrote that he joined the Army believing he could serve in the military and honor his religion, but he ended up having to endure insults and threats from fellow soldiers over his religion during basic and advanced training. He said life was better after he arrived at his first duty station, but that he studied Islam more closely as he neared deployment to learn "whether going to war was the right thing to do Islamically."

"I began to understand and believe that only God can give legitimacy to war and not humankind," he wrote. "That's when I realized my conscience would not allow me to deploy."

His application was filed in June 2010. The Army's Conscientious Objector Review board denied his request, but the deputy assistant secretary of the Army Review Boards Agency recommended he be separated from the Army as a conscientious objector. The discharge was delayed when he was charged with possession of child pornography on May 13.

Fort Campbell civilian spokesman Bob Jenkins said Abdo had been aware of the child pornography investigation since November.

KILLEEN — An AWOL soldier who had weapons stashed in a motel room near Fort Hood admitted planning an attack on the Texas post, where 13 people died in 2009 in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military installation, the Army said in an alert issued Thursday.

Pfc. Naser Abdo, a 21-year-old soldier who was granted conscientious objector status this year after he said his Muslim beliefs prevented him from fighting, was arrested Wednesday. Agents found firearms and "items that could be identified as bomb-making components, including gunpowder," in his motel room, according to FBI spokesman Erik Vasys.

The Army alert sent via email and obtained by The Associated Press says the man arrested by Killeen police "was in possession of a large quantity of ammunition, weapons and a bomb inside a backpack." Upon questioning, the alert says, he admitted to planning an attack on Fort Hood.

Officials have not offered details about Abdo's possible intentions. The infantry soldier from Garland, Texas, had applied for conscientious objector status last year. A military review board recommended this spring that he be separated from the Army.

But the discharge was delayed after he was charged with possessing child pornography and an Article 32 military hearing last month recommended he be court-martialed. He's been absent without leave from Fort Campbell, Ky., since the July 4 weekend.

Abdo's arrest came after the owners of a local gun store — the same store where the 2009 Fort Hood shootings suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan bought a pistol used in the attack — called police, the Army's alert said.

Store clerk Greg Ebert said the man arrived at Guns Galore LLC by taxi Tuesday and bought 6 pounds of smokeless gunpowder, three boxes of shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semi-automatic pistol, paying about $250. Ebert said he became concerned when the man asked questions indicating he didn't know much about the items.

"(We) felt uncomfortable with his overall demeanor and the fact he didn't know what the hell he was buying," Ebert said. "I thought it prudent to contact the local authorities, which I did."

Killeen police learned from the taxi company that Abdo had been picked up from a local motel and that he also had visited an Army surplus store where he paid cash for a uniform bearing Fort Hood unit patches, according to the Army alert.

Vasys said the FBI would charge Abdo with possessing bomb-making components and he would be transferred from Killeen police into federal custody. Vasys said there was nothing to indicate Abdo was "working with others."

An Oklahoma attorney who has represented Abdo said Thursday he hadn't heard from Abdo in weeks and learned of the arrest from a Texas television station.

"I've been quite anxious to get in touch with him," said attorney James Branum.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, faces a possible death sentence when he is tried next year on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder in the 2009 rampage at Fort Hood.

The Army post issued a statement seeking to reassure the community after Abdo's arrest Thursday.

"At this time, there has been no incident at Fort Hood," the statement said. "We continue our diligence in keeping our force protection at appropriate levels."

Fort Campbell spokesman Rick Rzepka referred all questions to the Pentagon.