An American who joined Al-Qaeda and plotted to attack a New York commuter train was spared a long prison term because he provided the United States with extensive intelligence about the terrorist group, prosecutors said.
Bryant Neal Vinas, 34, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in 2009 after his capture by Pakistani authorities and has already been in custody for 8 1/2 years. A Brooklyn court ruled on May 11 that he will serve three more months before being released.
Vinas, a U.S. Army veteran, traveled to North Waziristan in Pakistan in 2007 and joined Al-Qaeda, which provided him with weapons and explosives training, authorities said.
He worked with Al-Qaeda leaders to identify potential targets inside the United States, including the Long Island Railroad connecting New York City to the Long Island suburbs.
Within days of his arrest, however, Vinas began cooperating with U.S. authorities, and prosecutors said he contributed to resolving or opening more than 30 cases.
"He may have been the single most valuable cooperating witness" on Al-Qaeda activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan between 2007 and 2008, prosecutors told the court.