A 24-year-old Asian convert to Islam, licensed to work as a security guard, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to join Al-Qaeda and lying on a U.S. passport application to aid international terrorism.
UK Daily Mail Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen (photo right), also known as “Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum,” 24, was taken into custody Friday morning at a bus station in Santa Ana where he was attempting to board a bus headed for Mexico. Nguyen had been named in a two-count indictment returned Friday by a Los Angeles federal grand jury, the FBI stated. He was charged with knowingly attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda and making false statements in an application for a passport. Nguyen had been “radicalized” and wanted to become a “foot soldier” for al-Qaeda, sources told the Los Angeles Times.
The indictment alleges that Nguyen on Aug. 23 made the false statements on a passport application about his name, date and place of birth, and his parents’ names and places of birth, in order to facilitate an act of international terrorism. Nguyen attempted in Orange County to provide “services and personnel, namely himself, to work under the direction and control of al-Qaida.”
A Facebook page with the name Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, the same identity Nguyen used in his passport, documented a trip to Lebanon last year and a crossing into Syria. In January, Ghannoum wrote: ‘I’m doing well in Syria … having a blast here, and I mean literally.’ The Garden Grove, California, resident was ordered detained on the grounds of danger and risk of flight during a brief federal court appearance in Orange County. He is a U.S. citizen.
The Orange County Register reported Nguyen went to Syria in December after hearing about the civil war. ‘He said that he wanted to protect his brothers,’ Nguyen’s sister, Minh Ngoc Nguyen, said. ‘He would want to help other people.’ Nguyen lived with his parents, two sisters and two brothers in Garden Grove. Another brother lives in Nevada and serves with the Army.
Nguyen was licensed as a security guard and had permits for a baton and firearm from California’s Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, according to Russ Heimerich, a state spokesman.