Oct. 12--A Little Saigon resident was pulled off a Mexico-bound bus in Santa Ana and arrested Friday by federal officials who said he was aiding Al Qaeda and planned to become a foot soldier for the terrorist group.
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, who changed his name to Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum when he converted to Islam, was indicted on two counts of trying to support Al Qaeda and making false statements on his passport, according to an indictment made public Friday in federal court in Santa Ana.
During a brief appearance in court he was ordered held in custody until an Oct. 18 court date.
Tall, with black hair past his shoulders, a mustache and a beard, Nguyen looked out from thin rectangular glasses toward his family during the proceedings but said nothing.
"It surprised me. I don't know what's going on," said his mother, Hieu Nguyen, seated with her husband and a son. She said the family was shocked by the allegations.
She said Nguyen had converted to Islam about a year ago. His brother, who did not give his name, said the conversion "made him a better person."
Nguyen has a state firearms license typically used by those working as armed guards.
Federal prosecutors accused him in an indictment with knowingly attempting to provide material support -- "namely himself," the indictment says -- to the terrorist group. He also is accused of lying on a passport application, making false statements about his name, his date of birth, his place of birth and other information.
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."
Times staff writer Anh Do contributed to this report.
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