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O.C. man accused of aiding Al Qaeda pleads not guilty

October 11, 2013|By Richard Winton and Adolfo Flores

A Little Saigon man accused of plotting to become a foot soldier for Al Qaeda appeared in federal court Friday and pleaded not guilty to federal terrorism charges.

Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, who changed his name to Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum after converting 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 by the U.S. attorney.

During a brief appearance in a Santa Ana courtroom, he was ordered held in custody on the grounds of danger and flight until his next court date Oct. 18.

Tall with black hair past his shoulders and a mustache and beard, Nguyen looked out from thin rectangular glasses toward his family a few times during the proceedings.

His father, mother and a brother, who live in Garden Grove. expressed shock at his arrest and the allegations.

"It surprised me. I don't know what's going on," said his mother, Hieu Nguyen. She said she was shocked by the allegations.

She said Nguyen had converted to Islam about a year ago. His brother, who did not given his name, said the conversion “made him a better person.”

Nguyen has a state firearms license typically used by those working as armed guards. 

FBI agents took Nguyen in custody Friday morning at 7:30 as he attempted to board a Mexico-bound bus in Santa Ana with a passport identifying him as Ghannoum. 


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