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Long Island

LIRR riders say they'll keep riding rails

Commuters at Penn Station Wednesday said they won't stop taking the train, even in the wake of accusations against a Patchogue man that he funneled information about the Long Island Rail Road to al-Qaida.

Officials issued a warning in November that the LIRR could be targeted following the arrest of Bryant Neal Vinas, 26, the former Long Islander who prosecutors said received military training in Pakistan.

"I think the U.S. is always going to be a target," said Valerie Wieman, 39, of Rockville Centre, whose sister-in-law, Mary Wieman, died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center. "I think New York especially is going to be a target. Regardless, I would not stop riding mass transit regularly."

Court papers unsealed Wednesday revealed that Vinas gave al-Qaida operatives information about the city's public transportation network, including the LIRR. Vinas pleaded guilty in January to federal charges of helping al-Qaida and participating in a rocket attack on an American military base in Afghanistan.

Wieman, an auditor in midtown Manhattan, said the news won't change her commuting habits.

"I don't expect that it is going to impact my ridership in the least," she said.

Recalling the 1993 shooting on an LIRR train that killed six dead and injured 19, Wieman said, "Anyone with an intent to kill is going to do it."

Heather Jay, 28, of Long Beach, who takes the train daily to her job as a financial aid officer at Touro College in the Flatiron district in Manhattan, said threats are part of the burden of living in New York.

"There are a lot of crazy people on Long Island," she said. "You put up with the craziness, the rush hour, the traffic. Otherwise, you would leave New York. That's what New York is."

David Williams, 44, of Forest Hills, commutes on an LIRR train and two New Jersey Transit trains each way. "It's a little alarming, but you gotta go to work every day," he said. With Carl MacGowan

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