Abdo’s mother, who has moved to a nearby house, would not comment.
Javion Doss, 18, a classmate of Abdo’s sister Charity at South Garland High School, said he met Abdo, known to friends in Garland as Jason, in January 2010. Abdo proudly showed off his uniform and dog tags, Doss said.
Doss said the mother, Carlisa Abdo Morlan, worked hard and displayed Bibles, candles and Christian memorabilia in the house. She also allowed Doss and Charity to smoke marijuana in the home, he said.
Dashae Williams, 20, whose home is on the same street as the former Abdo home, also said she had seen Charity and other people smoking marijuana in the house.
Williams said Charity and her mother sometimes argued about Charity’s partying. Williams said she saw Abdo for the first time about 18 months ago when Charity ran screaming and crying into the street and her brother restrained her.
“They were nice people,” said Kennetha Williams, 25, another neighbor. “It was a major shock when my mom told me what happened because they were really nice.”
About three years ago, Abdo was spending a lot of time at the Dallas Central Mosque, said Awais Khan, owner of the JIT Enterprises, which briefly employed him. At the mosque, Abdo was known as Naser.
“He used to always be in the mosque. He was very devout,” Khan said.
But while he was working for the company, collating orders for watches, his behavior was “abnormal,” Khan said. “I had an angry chit-chat with him. . . . He would not do what I asked so I quickly got rid of him.”
In a submission to the Army to support his request for a discharge as a conscientious objector, Abdo struck a very different tone from his conversations with Klawonn and said he entered the military believing that his religion was compatible with service.
But he said said he was harassed because he was a Muslim during basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., and as a result became silent and reclusive. “They would ask me if I would murder my family if they were enemy combatants,” Abdo wrote of fellow trainees.
Abdo wrote that in early 2010, while preparing for deployment to Afghanistan, he “began studying Islamic teachings about war and peace.” He wrote that he came to the conclusion that he could not participate in the wars in which the United States was fighting, or might someday fight, because they were not initiated by a “just Muslim ruler.”
Fordham reported from Garland, Tex. Staff writers William Wan and Jason Ukman and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.