LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Garden Grove security guard pleaded guilty Friday to a federal terrorism charge for planning to fly to Pakistan and provide weapons training to members of al-Qaida.
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Nguyen also used the name Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
In a plea agreement filed last Friday, Nguyen admitted he traveled a year ago to Syria, where he joined opposition forces. On a social network site during the four-month period he was in Syria, Nguyen told people he was fighting against the Assad regime and that had a “confirmed kill.”
When he returned to the U.S., Nguyen told associates he had offered to train al-Qaida forces in Syria, but had been turned down, Mrozek said.
Between Aug. 3 and Oct. 11, prosecutors say Nguyen met with a man he believed to be an al-Qaida recruiter, but who was actually working with the FBI. During their meetings Nguyen questioned the man to determine if he was a fellow jihadist and told him about his exploits in Syria, saying he wanted to return to jihad because “this was what he was born to do,” according to the plea agreement.
Nguyen gave the purported recruiter a photo of himself and a passport application with bogus information so he could travel to Pakistan under a fraudulently obtained U.S. passport, the plea agreement said. Nguyen agreed to travel to Pakistan, where he planned to train 30 al-Qaida fighters for five or six weeks to prepare them “for a guerrilla warfare ambush attack on coalition forces” that would take place this month, according to the court documents.
Federal officials say Nguyen admitted to purchasing a plane ticket to travel from Mexico to Peshawar, Pakistan on Oct. 1. On Oct. 11, Nguyen was arrested by the FBI at a bus station in Santa Ana, where he had purchased a ticket to Mexico.
At the time of his arrest, Nguyen had the false passport and a computer hard drive that contained “over 180 training videos on shooting firearms.”
Nguyen is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21 and faces a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.