Bryant Neal Vinas,raised on Long Island, admitted targeting LIRR, Walmart in talks with Al Qaeda

Bryant Neal Vinas,raised on Long Island, admitted targeting LIRR, Walmart in talks with Al Qaeda

A Long Island-raised former truck driver--who quit the U.S. Army and later joined Al Qaeda--gave shocking testimony Monday that he suggested bombing Long Island Railroad commuter trains and Walmart locations during discussions with a senior member of Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

Bryant Neal Vinas, 29, of Medford said that back in 2008, during training at a terror camp in North Waziristan, he spoke to the emir in charge of International Operations for Al Qaeda--Abdul Hafiz al-Somali---and suggested putting suitcases with bombs on the Long Island Railroad. "I drew out a map of Long Island," Vinas said, "and I explained all the train lines merge into a tunnel that goes into Manhattan."

Vinas said Hafiz liked the idea. "He thought the best attack would be to have a martyrdom plan where the train was still inside the tunnel….to cause a big financial impact to New York."

Vinas, the son of Peruvian immigrants who was raised Catholic, is testifying at the federal trial of Adis Medunjanin, a Queens College grad who's accused of conspiring in a plot to bomb New York City subways.

Vinas said for the LIRR idea, the Al Qaeda official wanted to choose a "suicide bomber" who wouldn't call too much attention to himself. "He said preferably, it would be a white man from one of the Western countries--the European Union, Canada, Australia or the United States." Prosecutors are trying to establish that several, New York men were dealing with the same, Al Qaeda operative in Pakistan…even though Vinas testified he never met Medunjanin.

Vinas also took credit for an idea to attack Walmart. "You could hide a bomb inside a target you could return--preferably a TV--and you could get out of the store and it would explode," Vinas testified. "It would cause a very big economic hit. Walmart is the largest retail store in the country," he observed.

Vinas started his testimony by telling prosecutors he had joined the United States Army in March 2002 but left after three weeks because "I found it was mentally overwhelming." He converted to Islam in 2004 and by November 2008, he was arrested in Peshawar, Pakistan. At one point before that, he testified that he went with a group of jihadists over the border into Afghanistan to conduct a mortar attack against U.S. led coalition forces--but the attack was foiled, because there were too many planes flying overhead.

Vinas made it clear that he bought into the idea of suicide missions, even though he said he was in a vulnerable state when he agreed to participate in Pakistan. "I was having a difficult time with the altitude," he testified, "I was getting sick." Regarding the idea of being a suicide bomber, Vinas said, "You are forgiven of all your sins….You are rewarded with 72 virgin wives….You can ask forgiveness for a certain amount of family members."

Vinas has pleaded guilty to murder conspiracy and faces life in prison when sentenced. But he's hoping the government will write a memorandum in his behalf to the sentencing judge, talking about his cooperation not only with the United States--but eight foreign governments.