A Yemeni man accused of recruiting Long Islander Bryant Neal Vinas into al-Qaida faces a minimum of 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to terrorism charges in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Saddiq al-Abbadi, 40, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and weapons charges in addition to recruiting Vinas, of Patchogue, who discussed a bomb plot against the Long Island Rail Road before being captured and becoming a cooperating witness for the government.
Al-Abbadi was extradited to the United States in January from Saudi Arabia, where he had served time for an al-Qaida plot. He could get a sentence of up to life in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis. The sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 25.
Al-Abbadi said that in addition to providing personnel to al-Qaida by recruiting others, he waged war against American forces overseas.
"I with others fought in Iraq from 2005 to 2009 against the United States of America with the intention to hurt, wound or kill these forces," he told Garaufis. "In 2008, I with others traveled from Afghanistan to Pakistan to fight and kill the U.S. forces stationed there."
Prosecutors said that he was the mastermind of a 2008 plan to lure U.S. forces to a compound in Afghanistan that had been booby-trapped with explosives and blow them up. A massacre was barely avoided when a soldier noticed wiring that was part of the detonation system.
"The defendant was a high-level al-Qaida operative with ties to the terrorist group's senior leadership," said acting U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie. "He fought in battles against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan . . . and helped an American citizen gain entry to al-Qaida."
Al-Abbadi and co-defendant Ali Alvi allegedly met Vinas at a safe house in Pakistan in 2007, where he was looking to link up with a group that would give him combat training. They befriended him, and introduced him to a Pakistani al-Qaida group.
Charges of conspiring to kill Americans and provide material support to al-Qaida are still pending against Alvi. Vinas is expected to be a witness at his trial.