assessments

Alleged Fort Hood Plotter Thwarted by Operational Mistakes

4 MINS READJul 28, 2011 | 22:16 GMT
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Summary
An alleged plot to attack a restaurant near U.S. military post Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, was thwarted by several operational mistakes on the part of U.S. Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, the man arrested July 27 who is suspected of planning the attack. An alert employee at a gun store where Abdo allegedly bought materials to make improvised explosive devices noted the suspect's odd demeanor and called police. Abdo's case is another example of the danger of grassroots attackers — and an example of a would-be lone wolf militant without the experience or capability necessary to carry out an attack.
U.S. Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, the man arrested July 27 on an outstanding warrant for viewing child pornography on a government computer, is being investigated by the FBI on suspicion of plotting an attack on a restaurant near Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Abdo allegedly wanted to "get even" for unspecified offenses he claimed to have been subjected to while in the military, according to legal documents in the case obtained by ABC News. Details on Abdo's arrest indicate he was buying ammunition and attempting to construct two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and that his plan was to detonate the devices, then shoot any survivors of the blasts. However, according to the documents and witness statements, the alleged plot was thwarted by Abdo's demeanor and operational mistakes noticed by an alert gun store employee. The case is thus another example of a would-be lone wolf without the experience or capability necessary to carry out an attack. Abdo has had a documented history of problems while serving in the U.S. military. He first attracted notice in August 2010 when he applied for conscientious objector status, telling CNN at the time, "I don't believe that Islam allows me to operate in any kind of warfare." Abdo's application was approved in May 2011, but his discharge was put on hold because of an investigation into his alleged possession of child pornography on a government computer. A Facebook page in Abdo's name claims the investigation was revealed two days after his conscientious objector status was approved and implied that investigators were conspiring against him. Abdo then reportedly went AWOL over the July 4 weekend. Abdo allegedly exposed his plans when purchasing materials for his attack at Guns Galore in Killeen. This is the same store where U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly bought firearms before attacking Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009, so the staff at the store likely was already on alert for suspicious behavior, exposing Abdo to scrutiny during the operational planning and weapons acquisition stage of the terrorist attack cycle. The clerk told interviewers that Abdo arrived in a taxi and continued to wear sunglasses while inside the store. He asked questions about smokeless gunpowder and reloading options. Abdo purchased six canisters of smokeless gunpowder, a pistol magazine and shotgun shells. After Abdo left the store, the clerk called police to report Abdo's odd demeanor. Police followed up with the taxi service and arrested Abdo at a hotel around 2 p.m. local time. In his hotel room were gunpowder, shotgun shells, 8 kilograms (about 18 pounds) of sugar, a pressure cooker, four magazines and ammunition, CNN and ABC News reported — ingredients that would likely be used in a pressure cooker bomb or similar IED. Prior to his arrest, Abdo also allegedly purchased a military uniform with Fort Hood insignia at a surplus store, which could have been used to infiltrate the base, surprise victims by attacking in uniform or as a disguise with which to escape the scene. Abdo's case is yet another example of the danger of grassroots attackers. An FBI spokesman said he also was found in possession of jihadist materials that, given what was found in his hotel room, may have been Inspire magazine's directions for building a pressure cooker bomb. An investigation will now commence to see if there were overt clues to Abdo's shift from a conscientious objector to alleged attack plotter, much like in the case of Hasan. Investigators will also be searching to see if he was linked to transnational jihadist groups or other potential grassroots operatives. STRATFOR has previously noted the importance of situational awareness, grassroots defense and particularly the role retailers can play in disrupting attack plots. While much will be made of his public role as a Muslim conscientious objector, it is important to note that this alleged plot was disrupted by noticing Abdo's demeanor and activities rather than his ideology or appearance.

Article Search

Copyright © Stratfor Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved.

Stratfor Worldview

OUR COMMITMENT

To empower members to confidently understand and navigate a continuously changing and complex global environment.

GET THE MOBILE APPGoogle Play