By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - A soldier who tried to build a bomb and use it to blow up a restaurant near the Fort Hood Army post in Texas to get revenge for the suffering of fellow Muslims in the Middle East was sentenced to life in prison by a federal judge on Friday.
Private First Class Naser Jason Abdo, 22, was arrested after a tip from a gun store owner who became alarmed by Abdo's befuddled attempts to buy smokeless gunpowder and weapons.
He was convicted at a trial in May.
U.S. District Judge Walter Smith handed down two consecutive life prison sentences for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and for possession of a weapon to commit a violent crime. He also sentenced Abdo to 60 years in prison for attempted murder and weapons possession.
At his trial, witnesses testified that Abdo set out to build a bomb that he planned to detonate near the main gate of Fort Hood at a Chinese restaurant, which is known to be frequented by soldiers and their families.
Abdo planned to open fire on the victims fleeing the bombing and the first responders rushing to the scene. One investigator said he referred to civilians who would be killed as "collateral damage."
When he was arrested at a motel room in Killeen, Texas, Abdo had bomb making items in his backpack, and he also had an article allegedly taken from an al-Qaeda publication, entitled, "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."
"This prosecution demonstrates that those who use or plan violence to further their twisted agendas will be prosecuted as aggressively as the law allows, and will, as in this case, spend the rest of their lives staring at the wall of a prison cell," said U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman.
Killeen Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said the sentencing will "provide a sense of comfort to the residents of Killeen."
"They will be pleased that Mr. Abdo will no longer be a threat to our community," Baldwin said.
(Editing by Paul Thomasch and Vicki Allen)