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October 15, 2013 1

California Arrest Underscores Ongoing Concern Over Americans Joining Al Qaeda Abroad

Update — Octo­ber 18, 2013: Arrest in Long Island high­lights con­tin­u­ing lure of ter­ror groups abroad.

An Orange County man was arrested on Fri­day for allegedly pro­vid­ing mate­r­ial sup­port to Al Qaeda. The arrest under­scores ongo­ing con­cerns over Amer­i­can cit­i­zens join­ing ter­ror­ist groups abroad and Syria in particular.sinh-vinh-ngo-nguyen-hasan-abu-omar-ghannoum

Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghan­noum, report­edly trav­eled to Syria in Decem­ber, 2012, and fought against the Assad regime. While the indict­ment against Nguyen does not spe­cially men­tion his travel to Syria, he report­edly left com­ments on what appears to be his Face­book page indi­cat­ing his pres­ence in the coun­try between Decem­ber 2012 and April or May 2013.

I’m doing well in Syria…having a blast here, and I mean lit­er­ally” read one com­ment. In another, Nguyen appar­ently “con­firmed his first kill” and expressed eager­ness for more. In April, he posted an image of a dead fighter whom he called “A Dear Brother of mine.”

Nguyen, who report­edly returned to the U.S around May 2013, was arrested while attempt­ing to board a bus to Mex­ico. He is charged with attempt­ing “to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port and resources, that is, ser­vices and per­son­nel, namely him­self,” to al Qaeda, as well as mak­ing false state­ments on a pass­port appli­ca­tion. It is not clear why he planned to travel to Mexico.

Since 2007, over 50 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents have been arrested or charged in con­nec­tion with attempts to join ter­ror­ist groups abroad, includ­ing Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula. An increas­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans have been attracted to the con­flict in Syria and have attempted to join Jab­hat al-Nusrah, an alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Nguyen, a Mus­lim con­vert, is licensed as a secu­rity guard and was train­ing to be a truck dri­ver. His pur­ported Face­book page indi­cates strong inter­est in weapons, includ­ing posts about his favorite weapons and an image of a “com­mando style” rifle that served as his Face­book pro­file pic­ture last winter.

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