A 25-year-old Southern California man was sentenced Monday to 13 years in federal prison for trying to aid al-Qaida after prosecutors say he used Facebook to try to connect with the terror organization so that he could train fighters in Pakistan.
A U.S. District Court judge handed down the punishment Monday to Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, also ordering 10 years of supervision when he is released. In December, the 24-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
The plea came a week after the filing of an agreement in which Nguyen admitted that he intended to provide weapons training to forces in Pakistan, according to prosecutors.
"I simply do not understand how we can rehabilitate his commitment to die for his beliefs," U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter commented while discussing what potential threat Nguyen might pose after his release, the Associated Press reported.
Nguyen shook his head no at Monday's proceedings when the judge asked if he would like to make any remarks. Nguyen sat with his hands shackled at the waist, twiddling his thumbs, according to the AP report.
The Garden Grove man was arrested last year after several meetings between August and October 2013 with a man he thought was a recruiter, but who was really working for the FBI.
He had a ticket to travel to Mexico and, eventually, Pakistan when he was arrested at a Santa Ana bus station, according to details in a grand jury indictment. He also had a false passport, obtained during a meeting with an individual posing as an al Qaeda recruiter, and a computer drive that contained firearms training videos, according to authorities.
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He told the man he wanted to return to jihad because "this was what he was born to do," the U.S. Attorney's Office statement continued.
His public defender said Monday that Nguyen has a personality disorder. Now that it's being treated "all of this magical thinking has stopped," said defense counsel Yasmin Cader.
The public defender also said there was very little expertise Nguyen could offer to a terrorist organization.
"He is not a skilled tactician," she said.
Nguyen said he had traveled to Syria and for five months fought with rebel groups opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. While in Syria, Nguyen offered his services to al-Qaida but was turned down, according to federal prosecutors.