The U.S. soldier arrested in Texas on Thursday planned to make two bombs using gun powder and shrapnel packed in pressure cookers to detonate inside a restaurant frequented by soldiers from Fort Hood, according to the Justice Department.
Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo was charged on Friday with possession of an unregistered destructive device in connection with the bomb plot, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in Waco, Texas. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
According to the complaint, Abdo told arresting officers he intended to conduct an attack in Killeen, Texas, and at Fort Hood, the military base that was the site of a 2009 shooting rampage that left 12 soldiers dead. The restaurant was not identified.
The complaint alleges that on July 27 Abdo was in possession of a Springfield .40-caliber handgun, ammunition, an article entitled, "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom," as well as bomb-making components that included six bottles of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun shells, shotgun pellets, two clocks, two spools of auto wire, an electric drill, and two pressure cookers.
Abdo, 21, had disappeared from Kentucky's Fort Campbell after receiving word that he was going to be court-martialed for the possession of child pornography.
Abdo is at least the third Muslim-American soldier suspected of trying to kill his fellow troops since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2003, then-Sgt. Hasan Akbar threw a grenade into a tent in Kuwait, killing a pair of American soldiers. Six years later, Maj. Nidal Hasan was charged with opening fire on a crowd of troops at Fort Hood, killing 13 people-including 12 soldiers-in the worst act of military-on-military violence in U.S. history.
Abdo's case has renewed concerns about the threat posed by so-called lone-wolf extremists, individuals with no apparent ties to terrorist groups.
"The arrest near Fort Hood is the latest evidence that all Americans - including the men and women of our armed forces - face a growing threat of homegrown violent Islamist extremism, especially from lone wolves," Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said in a statement.
"An observant gun dealer took the threat seriously when he reported suspicious behavior, potentially saving scores of lives, and reinforcing the importance of the 'see something, say something' principle," Lieberman added. "This incident reminds us that alert citizens are critical to the nation's commitment to avert terror."