LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A US man was jailed for 13 years Monday for planning to travel to Pakistan to give weapons training to Al-Qaeda fighters, after spending time fighting in Syria, prosecutors said.
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 25, pleaded guilty late last year to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
US District Judge John Walter called the crime "a very serious offense that requires a correspondingly long sentence." Nguyen, based outside Los Angeles and also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum, admitted that in late 2012 he traveled to Syria, where he joined forces fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
During a four-month stay there, he posted online that he was fighting against the Assad regime, and that he had had a "confirmed kill." After returning to the United States, Nguyen said he had offered to train Al-Qaeda forces in Syria, but had been turned down.
In a two-month period beginning in August, he met with someone he thought was an Al-Qaeda recruiter, but who was in fact working with the FBI undercover.
He told the contact about his time in Syria and said he wanted to return to jihad because "this was what he was born to do." Nguyen discussed traveling to Pakistan with a false US passport, to train about 30 Al-Qaeda fighters for 5-6 weeks "for a guerrilla warfare ambush attack on coalition forces" sometime in late 2013, according to a plea agreement.
He bought a plane ticket to Peshawar, Pakistan on October 1, and was arrested on October 11 as he prepared to leave. In his possession, he had a false passport and over 180 training videos on shooting firearms, court documents showed.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated the case.