In a profile in Truthout, an anti-war magazine, Abdo proclaimed his desire to unlink the notion of terror from Islam: "Only when the military and America can disassociate Muslims from terror can we move onto a brighter future."
But Monday, Abdo will go on trial in federal court in Waco, accused of crimes that reinforce the very associations he publicly deplored.
He was arrested July 27 at a hotel just outside the gates of Fort Hood, and investigators reported finding equipment to make explosives in his room and backpack. They say he planned to detonate two bombs inside a restaurant popular with Fort Hood soldiers and shoot the survivors.
Abdo, 22, faces a life sentence on nine charges, including attempted murder and possession of a weapon of mass destruction. According to Abdo himself, he planned even more terror: From his jail cell, he told a Tennessee TV station he originally planned to kidnap a high-ranking officer at Kentucky's Fort Campbell and then videotape his execution.
If his past courtroom appearances are an indication, the trial could feature unpredictable behavior: In the past 10 months, Abdo has interrupted legal proceedings with outbursts and claimed to have tried to infect his guards with HIV by spitting blood at them.
Earlier this month, Abdo sent a letter to the Waco Tribune-Herald claiming he had intentionally infected himself with HIV before coming to Killeen so he could "continue to ‘punish the enemies of the faithful' if his plan for martyrdom failed," the newspaper reported. Jail officials have said Abdo was tested for communicable diseases but have not revealed the results.
Since his arrest, Abdo's former allies have distanced themselves from the soldier and say his actions have only helped demonize other Muslim soldiers.
"It's hard enough to be a Muslim in America today," said Jeff Paterson, project director for Courage to Resist, a California-based organization that financially supported Abdo's bid for conscientious objector status. "To have this case unfairly taint other Muslims in this stereotype is unfair."
Abdo joined the Army after a tumultuous childhood in Garland, in which both his Muslim father and Christian mother had run-ins with authorities.
His father, Jamal Abdo, was deported to Jordan in 2010 after serving three years for soliciting a minor. He had been arrested in 2004 after driving to meet someone posing online as a 15-year-old girl in a law enforcement sting.
And according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Abdo's mother, Carlisa Morlan, was convicted of three drug-related charges in 2002 and either served jail time or received probation for theft and prostitution charges in 2001 and 2002.
According to accounts on the Free Naser Abdo Facebook page, it wasn't until his late teens that he began to practice his faith as a Muslim. Soon after, Abdo joined the Army in March 2009 and was posted to Fort Campbell with the 101st Airborne, one of the Army's most heavily deployed units.
He told his supporters that he joined the Army believing he could be both a practicing Muslim and an American soldier.
But in several interviews, Abdo said that he was harassed during basic training because of his faith and that his fellow soldiers tried to get him thrown out of the Army. He said he eventually came to the belief that the Quran forbids his military service.
In June 2010 he began his push for conscientious objector status, giving frequent interviews to ABC News, CNN and Al Jazeera. As part of his application to Army officials, Abdo condemned Maj. Nidal Hasan, the Muslim soldier accused in the 2009 shooting massacre at Fort Hood, saying such acts "run counter to what I believe in as a Muslim," according to an essay obtained by The Associated Press.
An Army review board granted his conscientious objector status in May 2011. But shortly before he was scheduled to be discharged, Army investigators charged Abdo with possession of child pornography, claiming they found 34 images on his government-issued computer. Abdo denied the charge.
"It is because I am a conscientious objector and am fighting against going to Afghanistan that I have been charged with this crime," he told The Associated Press in June.
Before his court-martial at Fort Campbell could start, Abdo disappeared over the weekend of July 4. Four weeks later, he re-emerged 815 miles away in Killeen.
Officers tracked him down after he visited Guns Galore, the same store where Hasan had bought the weapons and ammunition he used during his deadly shooting rampage, according to testimony.
Abdo's visit set off alarms for clerk Greg Ebert, a former police officer who said Abdo arrived in a taxi and paid cash for containers of smokeless gunpowder, shotgun shells and a spare magazine for an automatic handgun. Ebert later told the American-Statesman, "His questions suggested he really didn't know what he was buying."
Ebert called Killeen police. The next day officers arrested Abdo at America's Best Value Inn, near the entrance to Fort Hood, on charges of child pornography and being AWOL from Fort Campbell.
Inside his backpack, police said, were two clocks, two spools of auto wire, a handgun and an article titled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom" which had appeared in the English-language al Qaeda magazine, Inspire.
In his hotel room they found gunpowder, more clocks and two pressure cookers, according to a criminal complaint. An FBI special agent testified that Abdo said he was in Killeen to "make things right with Allah."
Abdo's behavior has grown increasingly erratic in the weeks leading up to his trial. On April 26, officials say, Abdo drew blood when he scratched a McLennan County jailer on the arm, resulting in a felony charge of assault on a public servant. Three days later, Abdo was charged with harassment of a public servant after officials said he bit his tongue and spit blood into the face of another jailer. And according to multiple media reports, Abdo also tried to spit blood at a U.S. marshal and a sheriff's deputy as he was brought back to jail after an April 20 hearing.
Days later, the Waco Tribune-Herald received a letter, signed with Abdo's name, but featuring the return address of another inmate, possibly to evade interception by authorities. According to the newspaper, it said: "On April 20th, I have infected U.S. Marshalls (sic) and by the time this letter reaches its destination other McLennan County law enforcement will be infected as well. My life and death, blood and body, are for Allah."
Abdo has appeared unruly from his first court appearance in July, when he refused to stand as the judge entered the courtroom and he yelled out, "Nidal Hasan, Fort Hood 2009!" The outburst seemed to bolster investigators' beliefs that Abdo was inspired by the Army psychiatrist, who is scheduled for a court-martial at Fort Hood in August.
In a later court appearance, a shackled Abdo called out "press release" and unsuccessfully tried to throw a crumpled piece of paper to reporters.
And in December, Abdo fired his lawyers, saying he disagreed with their planned trial strategy, fueling speculation that he would attempt to make a political point with his trial. The judge, who has banned lawyers associated with the case from speaking with the media, appointed a new lawyer for Abdo.
For some, Abdo represents a betrayal of the peaceful principles they believed he represented. For others, he embodies their worst fears about Islam's connection to terror.
"I took him at face value. His message of peace was a good one," said Paterson, whose Courage to Resist group raised more than $1,000 to help Abdo fight for conscientious objector status.
Paterson said that after Abdo told the group the charges of child pornography were fabricated by his unit, the group took him at his word.
"Yeah, it's disappointing," Paterson said of Abdo's subsequent arrest in Killeen. "It feels like a betrayal at some level."
At the same time, Abdo's case confirms the beliefs of those who contend that a strain of political correctness has left American service members and installations vulnerable to attacks from Muslim extremists.
In a column in The Washington Times shortly after Abdo's arrest, Daniel Pipes, the president of the Middle East Forum and a visiting fellow at Stanford University, wrote that the case "once again points to the need for additional scrutiny of Muslims, whether serving in government or boarding aircraft. It's unfortunate, it's distasteful, but the common security demands no less."
Some go further. Tennessee state Rep. Rick Womick in November cited the Abdo case to call for removing all Muslim troops from the U.S. military.
"We have the foxes guarding the henhouse," he said in an interview with thinkprogress.org. "Personally, I don't trust one Muslim in our military."
Corey Saylor, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he hopes the Abdo trial does not create a larger backlash against the more than 6,000 Muslims serving in the armed forces.
"We are held more to account than other communities are," Saylor said. "An unfortunate reality is that Muslims tend to be judged based on our bad apples rather than the thousands of Muslims who serve honorably in the military."