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WACO, Texas — A Muslim soldier accused of planning to bomb Fort Hood troops says he wasn't seeking vengeance but justice for people in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a recording played at his federal trial Wednesday.
Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo is heard telling his mother during a recorded jail visit that "their suffering is my suffering."
Abdo, 22, is accused of planning to detonate a bomb inside a Killeen restaurant frequented by troops from the nearby Texas Army post and then shoot any survivors.
He faces up to life in federal prison if convicted of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and five other charges. He was AWOL from Fort Campbell, Ky., when he was arrested last July at a motel in Killeen, a city about 150 miles southwest of Dallas.
Abdo is heard telling his mother that "it's all true" and "the reason is religion. There is no other reason." He says what he did was selfless because he was trying to avenge the United States' wrongful treatment of people he considers his family, and that he used every resource he had "to make things as right as possible."
"I'll be all right," he is heard saying. "I made this decision."
A pressure cooker containing smokeless powder and other material — evidence of an explosive device in the making — was found in Abdo's motel room, Sgt. 1st Class Brad Grimes told jurors Wednesday. Other components to make a bomb were found in his room and backpack — and were listed in a magazine article about making bombs that also was found in his belongings, said Grimes, who is with Fort Hood's Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit.
Jurors in U.S. District Court in Waco were shown the article, which tells "my Muslim brother" that anyone could make a bomb with items that are not dangerous alone — such as clocks and batteries — and would not arouse suspicion when someone buys them.
Killeen police Sgt. Eric Bradley testified that officers began investigating July 26 after a gun store employee reported that a young man acted suspiciously when he bought 6 pounds of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun ammunition and a magazine for a semiautomatic pistol, while seeming to know little about the items. Bradley told jurors that he learned where the young man was staying from a cab company who gave him a ride, but didn't see the man when he went to the motel that night.
However, police did not do surveillance on the motel overnight and did not return until the next afternoon, Bradley acknowledged during cross-examination. Bradley said that's when they saw someone matching the man's description walk through the lobby toward a waiting cab — and they jumped up to detain him.
Although investigators had seen no evidence the man had done anything illegal, officers had reason to detain him because of the items he bought at the gun and Army surplus stores, and because he was carrying a full backpack, Bradley testified.
Officers finally learned Abdo's name and details of his plans when he was questioned in the back of a patrol car, according to a recording played in court Wednesday.
In the muffled recording, Abdo can be heard telling Bradley that he was planning to pull off an attack in the Fort Hood area "because I don't appreciate what my unit did in Afghanistan."
Prosecutors have said Abdo was stopped by authorities just hours before assembling the bomb. Defense attorneys have said that no bomb was built and that simply having some items does not make him guilty of the charges against him.