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Mother shocked by allegation that son aided Al Qaeda terrorists

October 12, 2013|By Adolfo Flores and Richard Winton
  • The family of Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, accused of aiding Al Qaeda, expressed shock at the allegations. Above, the family's home in Garden Grove.
The family of Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, accused of aiding Al Qaeda, expressed… (Damian Dovarganes / AP )

The family of an Orange County man accused of aiding Al Qaeda expressed shock at the allegations.

The man 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.

"It surprised me. I don't know what's going on," said his mother, Hieu Nguyen.

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."

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adolf.flores@latimes.com

richard.lopez@latimes.com

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