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August 21, 2010 Clip No. 2594

Muslim US Serviceman Nasser Abdo Talks to Al-Jazeera TV about His Refusal to Deploy to Afghanistan

Following are excerpts from an Al-Jazeera TV report on Muslim US serviceman Nasser Abdo, who has refused to be sent to Afghanistan. The report aired on August 21, 2010

Reporter: The Muslim US soldier Nasser Abdo prays five times a day where he lives near the Fort Campbell base in Kentucky, from where some 5,000 soldiers are to be sent to Afghanistan, as part of President Obama's plan, which strives to eliminate the Taliban. Abdo's fellow soldiers are preparing for deployment to Afghanistan soon, according to their orders. But this Muslim soldier is refusing to be sent with his unit, because, he exclaims, as a Muslim he is forbidden to kill Muslims.

Nasser Abdo: I don't believe I can involve myself in an army that wages war against Muslims. I don't believe I could sleep at night if I take part, in any way, in the killing of a Muslim.

Reporter: Nasser says that he has chosen to live his life according to the teachings of Islam. Therefore, he has requested – in accordance with US law – to be discharged from service, because this runs counter to the teachings of his religion. But he says that his commanders have been procrastinating, and to this day, have not given him a clear answer. He has decided not to go to Afghanistan, even though he knows that he might face two years in prison.

Nasser Abdo: They haven't processed my packet at all. I even heard from my unity commander that they lost my military record. I can't deploy with my unit to Afghanistan and participate in the war – I can't both deploy and be a Muslim.

Reporter: The armed command at Fort Campbell issued a written statement in response to our questions regarding the case of serviceman Nasser Abdo, according to which the US army recognizes that a soldier's religious beliefs may change over time. It said, however, that discharge is an administrative procedure that takes six months.

Army sources told Al-Jazeera TV that the serviceman Nasser would not be sent to Afghanistan within the next few days, and that his application was under review, but the final decision whether to send him to Afghanistan or not was up to his direct commander in Fort Campbell. For his part, serviceman Nasser Abdo expects to get his deployment orders at any moment.

It is a military secret, and therefore serviceman Nasser Abdo cannot tell us when his unit will be headed to Afghanistan. It will, however, be soon, and Abdo will not be with them. He will, apparently, be facing a prison sentence.

He has one lawyer, and his wife from Canada runs a website to raise money to finance his defense. The family of serviceman Naser Abdo is preparing for a lengthy and bitter legal battle.

This is Nasser Hussein, Al-Jazeera TV, from Kentucky.

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