Bryant Neal Vinas is a Hispanic Muslim American convicted of participating in and supporting Al-Qaeda plots in Afghanistan and the U.S.
After converting to Islam in 2004, he traveled to Waziristan, Pakistan in 2007 with the intention of meeting and joining a jihadist group to fight U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. He was accepted into al-Qaeda and received training in general combat and military explosives.
He also volunteered detailed information about the operation of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) system to a senior al-Qaeda leader to help plan a bomb attack on an LIRR commuter train in New York’s Penn Station. Subsequently, he participated in two al-Qaeda rocket attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in September 2008.
He was captured by Pakistani forces in 2008 and transferred to FBI custody. In January 2009 he pleaded guilty to all three charges against him.
WNBC reported: On Thursday a judge in Brooklyn federal court sentenced Vinas to time served plus 90 days. On his release he will be required to continue cooperating with the government.
“I apologize for my actions. There is no excuse for them. I blame only myself,” Vinas said in court. “I want to turn a bad thing into a good thing.”
Vinas, who will be released this summer, has cooperated with law enforcement and intelligence officials, providing information and playing the role of key prosecution witness in at least two terrorism trials in Europe. In these trials, his testimony has placed suspects in al-Qaeda training camps, linking them to the terrorist network. In addition, he has provided what intelligence officials have described as a “treasure trove” of valuable information about the workings of the Al-Qaeda network; as a speaker of Arabic, Dari, and Urdu who had rare contact with al-Qaeda leadership and participated in extensive training, he is uniquely familiar with the organization.
The cooperation from Vinas has been described as a major intelligence progress in understanding the process of Western-born potential jihadists getting through to terrorist training in remote areas of Pakistan.