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California man pleads guilty to terror charge

Mona Schafer Edwards / Reuters

Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 24, in Garden Grove, Calfornia is shown in this artist's sketch as he makes an initial appearance in United States District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., on Oct. 11.

A man from Southern California pleaded guilty Friday to a federal terrorism charge, admitting that he intended to assist al Qaeda by providing militants with weapons training, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization after signing a plea agreement last week, in which he confessed to joining terror forces in Syria about a year ago.

During the four months he spent in Syria, Nguyen boasted over social media sites about a "confirmed kill" in his fight against President Bashar Assad's regime, U.S. prosecutors said in a statement. When he returned to the United States, he told people he had offered to train al Qaeda forces in Syria but was rejected, the statement said.

For three months leading up to October, Nguyen met with someone he thought was an al Qaeda recruiter, according to the plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney's office said. The recruiter said he would help Nguyen obtain a false passport so that he could travel to Pakistan and train al Qaeda forces "for a guerrilla warfare ambush attack on coalition forces" that was set to take place in December, the plea agreement said.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

The home of the family of Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen is seen in Garden Grove, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013.

The alleged recruiter was actually an FBI agent, and Nguyen was arrested on Oct. 11 while he was attempting to board a bus to Mexico with his false passport and a hard drive containing "over 180 training videos on shooting firearms," according to the plea agreement.

Nguyen was previously charged with one count of making false statements to obtain a passport, but pleaded not guilty to that offense in October.

Nguyen has been in federal custody since his arrest and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21. He faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.