He went to Syria to study the Qur’an and ended up killing Infidels. It’s interesting how often this excuse is proffered. John Walker Lindh, the Marin County Mujahid, went to Yemen to study the Qur’an. Canadian jihadist Aaron Yoon went to Mauritania to study the Qur’an. What a remarkable coincidence that these converts find the most convenient place for Qur’an study just happens to be a jihadi hot spot.
SANTA ANA — A Garden Grove man pleaded not guilty to federal charges of terrorism Friday after he was arrested at a bus station on suspicion of aiding al-Qaida.
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, who also went by the name Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, had recently returned from the fighting in Syria, his sister and posts on his Facebook page said. The FBI said he was attempting to board a bus to Mexico when he was arrested at the Santa Ana transportation center at 7:30 a.m. Monday.
Nguyen was charged in a federal indictment with knowingly attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida and making false statements on a passport application. He appeared in federal court Friday afternoon, shackled at the waist, and pleaded not guilty. His attorney and half a dozen friends and family in the courtroom declined to comment.
FBI officials believe Nguyen used false information when he applied for a passport in Los Angeles in late August, including such details as his name, date of birth and parents” birth places. He also said he had never before applied for or received a U.S. passport, which was false, authorities said.
The FBI said he falsified his information to facilitate an act of terrorism. It did not provide further details, except to say in a statement that Nguyen did not appear to be traveling with others and investigators are not aware of any continuing threat to the public.
Nguyen lived with his parents, two sisters and two brothers in Garden Grove; another brother lives in Nevada and serves with the Army. He was raised Catholic but began attending mosques as he sought an understanding of God; he converted to Islam about two years ago, said his sister, Minh Ngoc Nguyen.
He decided to go to Syria after hearing about the civil war and suffering there, his sister said. “He said that he wanted to protect his brothers,” she said. “He would want to help other people.”
He left in December. In Facebook posts, he described traveling at night over mountains with little more than a backpack and passport, under threat of sniper fire. “Beside the unexpected mortar shells, tank shells, and daily heavy machine gun rounds, life here is chill,” he posted in January.
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen’s younger brother spoke Friday afternoon in front of his family home.
“He was not part of al-Qaida,” Dinh Nguyen, 18, said.
Dinh said his brother spent several months in Lebanon. He estimates his brother was there from late last year to the spring of this year.
“He wanted to view more of the religious things. First-hand-experience.”
Dinh said FBI agents searched the room he shared with his brother, and they confiscated his cellphone and computer. State records show he was licensed to carry a firearm as a security guard.
His sister said he was in Syria to study the Quran and help villagers but was so close to the fighting that he couldn’t avoid seeing it. On Facebook, though, he claimed to be helping Syrian freedom fighters. He claimed his “first confirmed kill” in early February and added: “So pumped to get more!!” In April, he posted a picture of a blood-soaked man, “A Dear Brother of mine,” and described losing five other comrades in a fight to seize an airport.
He returned to Orange County in time to see his sister graduate from Cal State Fullerton this spring. In one of his most recent Facebook posts, from August, he wrote, “I have so many regrets of leaving my brothers and sisters who are still suffering over there.”…