SoCal Man Pleads Guilty to Attempt to Support al-Qaida

Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen's arrest at a Santa Ana bus station came after meetings with a man he thought was an al-Qaida recruiter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, in a court sketch.

    A Southern California man arrested at a bus station after telling a man he thought was an al-Qaida recruiter that he "was born to" serve in the terror network pleaded guilty Friday to a federal terrorism offense.

    Read: Grand Jury Indictment

    Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The plea comes one week after the filing of an agreement in which Nguyen admitted that he intended to provide weapons training to forces in Pakistan, according to prosecutors.

    Sentencing is scheduled for March 21. He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

    Nguyen, of Garden Grove, was arrested at a Santa Ana bus station, where he had a ticket to travel to Mexico and, eventually, Pakistan to train al-Qaida forces, according to details in a grand jury indictment. He also had a false passport -- obtained during a meeting with an individual posing as a recruiter for al-Qaida -- and a computer drive that contained firearms training videos, according to authorities.

    His admission to the offense was outlined in last week's plea deal. Nguyen said that about one year ago he traveled to Syria and told people he "was fighting against the Assad regime," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

    He returned to the United States and told associates his offers to train al-Qaida forces in Syria had been turned down, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    But it was between August and October 2012 when Nguyen met with a man he thought was an al-Qaida recruiter, but actually was working for the FBI, according to authorities. He told the man he wanted to return to jihad because "this was what he was born to do, " the U.S. Attorney's Office statement continued.

    Nguyen provided the "recruiter" with a photo of himself for a passport and agreed to travel to Pakistan to train al-Qaida fighters, prosecutors said.

    He was arrested at the Santa Ana bus station Oct. 11.