U.S. Army Private First Class Nasser Jason Abdo, 21, first made the news last August when, arguing that his Islamic faith contradicts serving in the American military, he filed for conscientious objector (C.O.) status. Referring to current American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Abdo asserted that a Muslim "is not allowed to participate in an Islamicly unjust war. Any Muslim who knows his religion ... should not participate in the U.S. military." Further, he wrote: "I cannot be a soldier in the U.S. Army and continue to remain true to Islam."
Nasser Abdo in 2010, when he was giving interviews about his filing as a conscientious objector.
In May 2011, Abdo won C.O. status. But he was also notified that due to an investigation prompted by his anti-American statements, he would face an Article 32 hearing (the military equivalent of a grand jury) for downloading 34 child pornography pictures on his government-issued computer. Abdo vowed to fight this charge and impugned the army's motives:"It has been nearly ten months since the investigation started, and I am only now being charged with child pornography when my C.O. claim is approved. I think that all sounds pretty fishy."
On June 15, the Article 32 hearing recommended Abdo be court-martialed for the illegal pornography. On July 4, he went AWOL (absent without leave) from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. On July 27, he turned up at Guns Galore, a munitions shop in Killeen, Texas, near Ft. Hood, where he bought weapons, ammunition, and bomb-making materials. He also purchased a uniform with Ft. Hood patches from a military surplus store.
The article that guided Abdo's bomb making. (See larger-sized image)
Abdo admitted to the FBI that he "planned to assemble two bombs in the hotel room using gun powder and shrapnel packed into pressure cookers to detonate inside an unspecified restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood."
What were his motives?
Two stand out: He confessed to planning to kill soldiers to "get even" with the military, presumably because of the court martial. But his larger goal was Islamist, to strike at kafirs (non-Muslims). He made anti-American statements, read al-Qaeda's magazine, commended CAIR, spouted off about "Islamophobia," and declared that he could not fight fellow Muslims. Guns Galore is the same store where Maj. Nidal Hasan bought the weapons he used to kill 14 at Ft. Hood in November 2009. In court, Abdo yelled out "Nidal Hasan—Fort Hood 2009" and "Anwar al-Awlaki" (Hasan's al-Qaeda spiritual guide). He also screamed "Abeer Qasim al-Janabi—Iraq 2006," the name of a girl gang-raped and murdered that year by soldiers from the 101st .
Abdo commended the Council on American-Islamic Relations on his Facebook page. (See larger-sized image)
This Abdo-army consensus has vast implications for Islam in America, suggesting that Muslims constitute a fifth column and cannot be loyal citizens. I disagree: Muslims can be patriotic Americans and exemplary soldiers. That said, the Abdo case once again points to the need for additional scrutiny of Muslims, whether serving in government or boarding aircraft. It's unfortunate, it's distasteful, but the common security demands no less.
Mr. Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. © 2011 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Aug. 2, 2011 update: I provide what appears to be the fullest account available of the Nasser Abdo case in "Nasser Abdo: The Full Story," a 2,500-word weblog entry started a year ago. Updates will follow.