What to Know
- In January 2009, Bryant Neal Vinas pleaded guilty to charges he tried to kill American soldiers and provided support to al-Qaida
- He was captured by Pakistani authorities in 2008, and authorities say he has since provided critical information in the fight against terror
- Authorities say he cooperated in more than 30 terror probes and helped expose the LIRR plot he was involved in
A Long Island man who joined al-Qaida and once plotted to bomb LIRR trains heading to and from Penn Station will be released from prison this summer.
Bryant Neal Vinas, who also plotted attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan while he was a commander of an al-Qaida branch there, pleaded guilty to charges connected to the train bomb plot in January 2009.
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."
Government officials say Vinas has cooperated in more than 30 terror investigations; some of his interviews were prior to his arrest, and authorities say he was instrumental in exposing the LIRR plot he was involved in, which apparently was never set in motion.
U.S. authorities credit the Patchogue native with helping them identify al-Qaida members, pinpoint their hideouts, understand their communication structure and disrupt terror plots.
The government took no position on whether to release him. Federal officials acknowledge Vinas's cooperation could not have been "more timely," but say his crimes were extremely serious.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis said he was "… cautiously optimistic he’s learned from the error of his ways."