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American pleads guilty in attack on U.S. base in Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • Bryant Neal Vinas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals
  • American accused in 2008 rocket attack on U.S. military base in Afghanistan
  • Man accused of giving information about New York transit system to al Qaeda
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A New York man pleaded guilty in January to charges of aiding al Qaeda and helping attack a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

Bryant Neal Vinas pleaded guilty in to conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and receiving military-type training from a foreign terrorist organization, according to Monica McLean, spokeswoman for the FBI's New York office.

Authorities had accused Vinas of firing rockets at the U.S. military base along with others in September 2008, according to the indictment, filed under seal in January. In addition, authorities said he provided al Qaeda with information about the New York transit system and the Long Island Railroad.

Vinas, 26, is from Long Island, and is an American citizen, said a source close to the investigation. He was arrested in Pakistan, the source said.

Vinas pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court on January 28 in a closed hearing, according to court documents. At the time, the case was filed naming "John Doe" as a defendant and was sealed.

The January hearing was closed after U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled there was "substantial probability that a public guilty plea would prejudice a compelling interest of the government in gathering information of potential importance to protect the national security," according to a transcript of the public portion of the hearing, also unsealed Wednesday.

McLean would not say whether Vinas has been sentenced or comment on why the case was sealed. She said Vinas is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Vinas is also known as "Ibrahim," "Bashir al-Ameriki" and "Ben Yameen al-Kandee," according to the indictment unsealed Wednesday.

A European intelligence source told CNN that Vinas was associated with Moez Garsallaoui, a Tunisian Islamist militant, at training camps in Pakistan. The source said Vinas also was associated with a Belgian cell that included Hicham Beyayo, who was arrested in December in one of the largest counterterrorism operations in Belgian history.

In July 2008 Garsallaoui was boasting of cross-border attacks on U.S. bases, the intelligence source said. Beyayo has provided authorities with a detailed account of the training he and others in the group received, according to the source and Beyayo's attorney.

CNN's Nic Robertson and Ekin Middleton and journalist Paul Cruickshank contributed to this report.

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