Bryant Neal Vinas in an undated photo obtained by Newsday...

Bryant Neal Vinas in an undated photo obtained by Newsday from his childhood friend Victor Kuilan, who said the photo was 3 to 4 years old. Credit: Handout Photo

The American terrorist from Long Island gave a rare glimpse into how al-Qaida indoctrinates and teaches its recruits to kill, while telling American and Belgian law enforcement officials about terror plans in the works.

Bryant Neal Vinas, 26, returned to Pakistan in early 2008 for training after an unsuccessful attack on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, he said, according to a summary of his interrogation.

Vinas said that al-Qaida didn't have formal inductions or any pledge of allegiance, according to the summary. Vinas described how the training camps had a variety of courses about different weapons and tactics and put students through two weeks of training on explosives that included how to assemble suicide bomb vests, the summary stated. Another class dealt with the "theory of propelled weapons," said the summary. There were other courses on counterfeiting, ambushing and other tactics.

Al-Qaida instructors kept written evaluations of students on file, said Vinas, the summary noted.

Vinas, formerly of North Patchogue, pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to kill Americans overseas and to aiding al-Qaida. Later, he met with two Belgian magistrates investigating terror plots against soccer stadiums and the subway in Brussels, the capital of the European Union.

FBI officials Friday said Vinas talked in the presence of agents and the Belgium authorities. One FBI agent said the summary of the interview, released this week, appeared to be derived from notes prepared by defense attorneys in connection with an upcoming terror trial in Brussels, at which Vinas may testify.

The summary, prepared in French, related how after Vinas arrived in Lahore, Pakistan, in 2007, he still needed to contact a friend in New York to get the right introduction to get into an al-Qaida training camp.

Vinas said he eventually crossed the Afghan border and became part of a group that transported mortar rounds and munitions for use on an attack on an American base, the summary stated. The attack didn't take place because of the presence of aircraft, he said, according to the summary.

Earlier this week federal officials in Brooklyn unsealed court documents that detailed how Vinas admitted training with al-Qaida and actually took part in rocket attacks on American bases in Afghanistan.

In essence, Vinas, who said he was born in Queens, admitted taking part in the attacks aimed at killing American soldiers and telling a senior al-Qaida leader about the Long Island Rail Road system to help plan a bomb attack. He is now in the custody of U.S. marshals and faces a possible life sentence, officials said.

Belgian defense attorney Christophe Marchand, who is representing suspected terrorist Hicham Beyayo, said it didn't make sense that Vinas would be sent on a mission before being trained by al-Qaida.

"I don't trust his statement," said Marchand in a telephone interview Friday with Newsday.

Marchand said he also wants to investigate the circumstances surrounding Vinas' arrest in Pakistan last year and his interrogation by the FBI.

Almost as an aside, Vinas said he almost became a suicide bomber by accident, according to the summary. Vinas told investigators that those who wished to be suicide bombers put their name on the list. Vinas asked an al-Qaida member about the list, but that man misinterpreted Vinas' curiosity and made arrangements to put Vinas' name on the list, the summary said.

Vinas' attorney, federal public defender Len Kamdang, couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

With Robert E. Kessler

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