LOS ANGELES – A California man who used Facebook to connect with al-Qaida and planned to train its fighters in Pakistan was scheduled to be sentenced Monday in federal court.
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 25, of Garden Grove, pleaded guilty in December to one count of attempting to assist a known terrorist organization.
The crime carries a penalty of up to 15 years in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release. He was scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter, who earlier voiced doubts about how Nguyen could have helped al-Qaida.
Nguyen's attorney requested a shorter sentence by citing 14 other terrorism-related cases in which most received less than eight years in prison.
Between August and October 2013, Nguyen met several times with a man he thought was an al-Qaida recruiter but who was actually working for the FBI, according to court documents. Nguyen told the recruiter he was born to wage jihad and he agreed to travel to Pakistan via Mexico in order to train 30 al-Qaida fighters.
Nguyen was arrested at a Santa Ana bus terminal in October while waiting for a bus bound for Mexico. At the time of his arrest, Nguyen had a passport with a false name, along with a hard drive containing 180 weapons training videos, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Nguyen's admission was outlined in a plea agreement filed in federal court.
Nguyen, who also went by the name Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, said he had traveled to Syria and for five months fought with rebel forces opposing the regime of Bashar al-Assad. While in Syria, Nguyen offered his services to al-Qaida but was turned down, according to federal prosecutors.