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California man pleads guilty to volunteering for Al Qaeda on Facebook

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syria refugee camp (flickr)
syria refugee camp (flickr)

If you run into an Al Qaeda recruiter on Facebook, there's a good chance they're actually working for the FBI. It's a lesson 24-year-old Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen of Garden Grove, California learned the hard way. Between August and October, Nguyen met several times with a man he'd met on Facebook who he believed to be a recruiter for a Syrian Al Qaeda campaign — but on October 11th, the recruiter revealed himself to be a federal counterterrorism officer.

This week, Nguyen pled guilty to federal terrorism charges, although the judge openly questioned Nguyen value to Al Qaeda more broadly. He had previously spent five months in Syria fighting the Assad regime, according to prosecutors, but returned to America after being rejected by Al Qaeda forces there. He also applied to the US military, but was rejected for hearing problems, at which point he began to seek out recruiters on social media. Nguyen now faces up to 15 years in prison from his charges. Sentencing is scheduled for March 21st.