By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. July 28, 2011
This morning we were shocked to learn of the arrest of Army PFC Naser Abdo (photo right), whom we supported in a bid to be released from the Army as a Conscientious Objector in August 2010. PFC Abdo was arrested in Killeen, Texas, yesterday for possessing firearms, ammunition, and bomb-making materials, in what media reports describe as a plan to “attack Fort Hood.”
In August 2010 Courage to Resist, an organization dedicated to supporting military objectors to our country’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, supported PFC Abdo’s bid for discharge from the US Army as a Conscientious Objector based on the moral convictions that he expressed to us at the time. These convictions were outlined in a November 2010 article, “Naser Abdo: The missing story of Muslim peacemaking,” that we republished on our website couragetoresist.org.
Like dozens of similar cases, part of our support included fundraising for PFC Abdo’s legal representation regarding his Conscientious Objector application process and appeal. At the time, Courage to Resist raised $510 on behalf of PFC Abdo from supporters. Since then, we have paid a total of $1,100* in legal fees in support of that process and appeal.
PFC Abdo’s local Army command initially denied his Conscientious Objector application; however, in a somewhat rare move, the Pentagon overruled that denial and ordered PFC Abdo’s honorable discharge as a Conscientious Objector a few months ago.
Two days later, PFC Abdo’s local command filed charges against him for possessing child pornography on his Army issued notebook computer. These charges effectively halted any discharge proceedings. Without knowing what the evidence was, we believed that there was the possibility that these charges were a vindictive move by local Army authorities to smear PFC Abdo’s name and block his discharge. With that in mind, Courage to Resist continued to support PFC Abdo’s Conscientious Objector appeals–but we made it clear that it was up to him to clear his name regarding the criminal charges against him.
We have not had direct contact with PFC Adbo since that time, nor do we have any specific information to add to the media reports regarding his arrest.
We are very concerned that PFC Abdo’s arrest will be unfairly used against other Muslim military service-members and would-be Conscientious Objectors.
We have assisted hundreds of service-members who have “refused to fight” in various ways since 2005. In light of PFC Abdo’s arrest yesterday, we have removed PFC Abdo’s “resister profile” from those that we have proudly supported.
Courage to Resist stands absolutely opposed to the use of violence as a political tactic or strategy, and we are extremely grateful that the situation involving PFC Abdo near Fort Hood, Texas, was resolved without anyone being harmed or injured.
* This was increased from the originally published amount of $800 upon further review of our records. Updated August 2, 2011.