A California man pleaded not guilty Friday to charges of attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida and lying on a U.S. passport application to facilitate an act of terrorism.
Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen, 24, of Garden Grove, was arrested earlier in the day in Santa Ana while waiting to board a bus to Mexico, the FBI said in a statement.
An American citizen, Nguyen briefly appeared in federal court during the afternoon and was ordered detained on the grounds of danger and risk of flight.
A grand jury indictment says Nguyen is also known as Hasan Abu Omar Ghannoum and attempted to work under the direction of al-Qaida.
It does not provide any details about the alleged act of terrorism.
Investigators do not believe Nguyen was traveling with other people, and the FBI said it was not aware of a continuing threat to the public.
Nguyen's mother, Hieu Nguyen, told reporters at the courthouse that she doesn't know anything about the case and was surprised by the allegations. She and Nguyen's brother said he converted to Islam in the past year.
Nguyen was licensed as a security guard and had a baton permit and firearm permit from California's Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, according to Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the state Department of Consumer Affairs. He obtained the license and permits in 2009 and they were set to expire on Sept. 30, 2013, he said. It's not known whether he tried to renew the documents.
Officials for the FBI and U.S. attorney's office declined comment. Nguyen's lawyer, Amy Karlin, also declined to comment on the case.
Nguyen's next court date was scheduled for Oct. 18.