Garden Grove Man Charged With Supporting Al-Qaeda
A Garden Grove man was arrested and charged Friday with attempting to provide support to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. The recent convert to Islam had just returned from Syria where he talked about making "his first confirmed kill."
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 24, was arrested about 7:30 a.m. at a Santa Ana bus station, where he was about to board a bus for Mexico, according to the FBI.
Nguyen—also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum‐is charged with attempting to provide aid to al-Qaida and making false statements on a passport application.
At a Santa Ana federal courtroom Friday, he pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is being held without bail, City News Service reports.
Nguyen, a U.S. citizen, allegedly lied on the passport application "in order to facilitate an act of international terrorism," the FBI says. No details of what Nguyen intended to do have been released bu investigators do not believe Nguyen was traveling with others, and the FBI said it was not aware of a continuing threat to the public.
He was licensed as a security guard and had permits for a baton and firearm from California's Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, Russ Heimerich, a state spokesman told the OC Register.
Nguyen lived with his parents, two sisters and two brothers in Garden Grove. He was raised Catholic but converted to Islam about two years ago, his sister, Minh Ngoc Nguyen, told the Register.
He decided to go to Syria after hearing about the civil war and suffering there, his sister said. "He said that he wanted to protect his brothers. He would want to help other people."
He detailed his trip, which began in December, in Facebook posts. "Beside the unexpected mortar shells, tank shells, and daily heavy machine gun rounds, life here is chill," he posted in January, according to the OC Register.
The newspaper reports that he posted about his "first confirmed kill' in early February and added, "So pumped to get more!!" In April, he described losing five other comrades in a fight to seize an airport. In August, he wrote, "I have so many regrets of leaving my brothers and sisters who are still suffering over there." He returned to California to attend his sister's graduation from Cal State Fullerton.
His younger brother, Dinh Nguyen, 18, told CBS that he "wasn't shocked" by the arrest, but insisted to the OC Register, "He was not part of al-Qaeda."
Dinh said his brother spent several months in Lebanon, from late last year through early spring, saying, "He wanted to view more of the religious things. First-hand-experience."
Nguyen's mother, Hieu Nguyen, told reporters at the courthouse that she doesn't know anything about the case and was surprised by the allegations, according to Fox 11.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to investigate.
Nguyen is scheduled to return to court Oct. 18.