Subway bomb-plot trial reveals how terror happens / Bryant Vinas tells of going from lost Long Island kid to wanna-be suicide attacker (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL) 04/25/12)
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One after the other, the faces of homegrown terror have been taking
the witness stand in the Brooklyn Federal Court trial of accused
subway bomb plotter Adis Medunjanin.
The prosecution presented the testimony of Bryant Neal Vinas of Long
Island and Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, both of Queens, in
the hope of proving Medunjanin guilty of conspiring to kill hundreds
of New Yorkers.
As damning as their words were, they were equally powerful in
painting a picture of seemingly ordinary Muslims becoming radicalized
enough to consider a suicide attack a noble option.
Too often, the process is dismissed as a fantasy or a fluke. It is
neither. It is real, and it is potentially lethal even if confined to
a tiny minority of Muslims. That they are often troubled characters
makes them no less dangerous.
Vinas’ journey from growing up in Suffolk County to briefing Al Qaeda
operatives on the Pakistani frontier about the how-tos of attacking
the Long Island Rail Road is a stunning case in point.
By his own telling, Vinas was a hapless and searching loner who
lacked a strong sense of identity. The Catholic son of South American
immigrants, he experimented with extreme Christianity, tried his luck
in the Army, washed out after three weeks and then drifted through
jobs as a truck driver, forklift operator and cabbie.
A friend suggested Islam, and Vinas found a personal foundation. As
with any religion, many do find bearings — but Vinas went further.
On the Internet, he listened to the teachings of the late, unlamented
radical Anwar al-Awlaki and, after reading “Inside the Jihad,”
decided his that purpose in life was to fight American forces in Iraq
In 2007, he traveled to Pakistan, connected with militant s ,
participated in an aborted plan to launch a mortar attack on a U.S.
base in Afghanistan and agreed to a suicide mission — only to be
deemed unworthy on the ground that he lacked the requisite knowledge
of the Koran to qualify for martyrdom.
He was not to be deterred. Through persistence, Vinas became
something of the Forrest Gump of Islamist terror, eventually winding
up in Al Qaeda camps, taking part in a rocket attack on a U.S. base,
proposing targets like the LIRR and finally getting busted. He has
since been debriefed by numerous Western intelligence agencies.
The two other key witnesses — Zazi and Ahmedzay — were products of
Flushing High School, as was defendant Medunjanin. Like Vinas, they
found radical Islam online and, on the strength of that Internet
indoctrination, traveled to Pakistan in hope of fighting U.S. forces
There, they crossed paths with Al Qaeda and embarked on a scheme to
bomb the subway that likely would have come to fruition were it not
for the vigilance of the NYPD and FBI.
As he related the story while seeking a sentencing break, Zazi looked
and sounded like the friendly guy who once greeted customers affably
at a sidewalk coffee cart. He seemed back then like the last person
who deserved any law enforcement attention — no monitoring or, as the
critics would ludicrously have it, no “spying” — and that’s what’s
truly scary. (© Copyright 2012 NYDailyNews.com. 04/25/12)
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