Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen was sentenced to 13 years in prison on Monday after pleading quilty to terrorism charges. Nguyen, also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, admitted that he had plans to travel to Pakistan in order to give weapons training to Al-Qaeda fighters.
Nguyen had traveled to Syria in late 2012 to join forces in taking down President Bashar al-Assad, and had subsequently posted online that he had a “confirmed kill.” Nguyen also claimed to have offered to train Al-Qaeda forces in Syria after returning to the United States, but had been turned down.
District attorney court Judge John Walter called the crime “a very serious offense that requires a correspondingly long sentence.” Terrorism charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release, but Nguyen’s attorney requested a shorter sentence by citing other terrorism-related cases, of which most received less than eight years in prison.
Nguyen was arrested in October after a month of correspondence with a man he thought was an Al-Qaeda recruiter but was actually working for the FBI. According to court documents, Nguyen told the recruiter that he was born to wage jihad and agreed to train Al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan. In Nguyen’s plea agreement, Nguyen had planned to travel with a fake passport so he could spend five or six weeks training fighters for a “guerrilla warfare ambush attack on Coalition forces.”
Nguyen was arrested at a Santa Ana bus terminal in October while waiting for a bus bound for Mexico.