Daily Updates

December 28, 2013

California man pleads guilty to terror count

LOS ANGELES — A California man who used the Internet and Facebook to connect with al-Quaida pleaded guilty Friday to a federal terrorism charge after admitting he attempted to assist al-Qaida by providing weapons training, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 24, of Garden Grove unexpectedly entered the plea before U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter, who scheduled sentencing for March 21, prosecutors said in a statement. Reporters were not notified of his court appearance and were not present.

Nguyen faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.

Nguyen’s lawyer, Yasmin Cader, refused to comment on his decision, quickly hanging up the phone on a reporter, and U.S. Attorney’s spokesman Thom Mrozek said prosecutors also would have no comment.

The judge who accepted the plea previously had expressed skepticism about whether Nguyen had any special skills to offer al-Quaida.  

Nguyen had confessed to federal agents after he was unmasked by an undercover FBI agent posing as a recruiter for the terrorist group.

He said that he planned to offer himself as a trainer of some 30 al-Qaida forces to ambush troops in Syria, where he had already spent five months fighting with rebels, Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Heinz said after his arrest in October.  She said he underwent 50 hours of interrogation during which he confessed to his plan.

Nguyen’s admission was contained in a plea agreement filed in federal court, according to a U.S. attorney’s press release issued after the plea was entered and accepted.  

“Nguyen admitted that approximately one year ago he traveled to Syria where he joined opposition forces,” the statement said. “Using a social network site during a four-month period he was in Syria, Nguyen told people that he was fighting against the Assad regime and that he had had a ‘confirmed kill.”’

Nguyen returned to the U.S., where he told associates that he had offered to train al-Qaida forces in Syria but was turned down, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

At a hearing last fall, Judge Walter asked Heinz what Nguyen had to offer the terrorist group and she said, “He was providing himself.”

The judge noted that Nguyen was never a member of the U.S. armed forces, having been rejected because of a hearing problem.  

“I don’t see evidence that this defendant had any particular skill in firearms,” he said, “or that he had the ability to procure or deliver weapons. ... This is the part of the case that escapes me.”

It was not immediately known what changed his mind between then and the entry of the plea.

Prosecutors said that between Aug. 3 and Oct. 11 Nguyen met with a man he thought was an al-Qaida recruiter but who actually was working for the FBI, telling him about what he’d done in Syria and saying he wanted to return to jihad.

On Oct. 1, Nguyen purchased a ticket for travel from Mexico to Pakistan and he was arrested by FBI agents on Oct. 11 as he was about to board a bus from Santa Ana, Calif., to Mexico. He had been told he would be meeting “his sheik” in Peshawar, the prosecutor had said.

When he was arrested, authorities said he exclaimed, “How did you guys find out?”

 

1
Text Only
Daily Updates
  • NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 19, 2014

  • Documents detail another delayed GM recall

    Government documents show that General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and warranty repair claims.

    April 19, 2014

  • Captain of sunken SKorean ferry, 2 crew arrested

    The captain of the ferry that sank off South Korea, leaving more than 300 missing or dead, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need. Two crew members also were taken into custody, including a rookie third mate who a prosecutor said was steering in challenging waters unfamiliar to her when the accident occurred.

    April 19, 2014

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats

    As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

    April 19, 2014

  • Delay won’t quell 2014 wrangling over Keystone XL

    Democrats sweating this year’s elections may be hoping that the Obama administration’s latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.

    April 19, 2014

  • In Other News, April 19

    April 19, 2014

  • 5 features an Amazon phone might offer

    A report this week in The Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to release a smartphone has prompted industry analysts and technology blogs to muse about what the device might offer.

    April 19, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

  • Boston prepares for huge wave of marathon visitors

    With an expanded field of runners and the memory of last year’s bombings elevating interest in one of the world’s great races, the 2014 Boston Marathon could bring an unprecedented wave of visitors and an influx of tourism dollars to the area.

    April 19, 2014

  • Autopsy to ID dead boy; body cast off side of road

    All Massachusetts authorities could say for sure is that they found the lifeless body of a small boy, apparently cast off the side of a highway.

    April 19, 2014