The terrorist who was one of the planners responsible for the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 which killed 17 American sailors and wounded 39 others, has been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen, according to a Trump administration official.
Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi, who was a member of Qaeda, helped plan the October 12, 2000 attack; in 2003, the U.S. Justice Department indicted him as one of the last main co-conspirators who were still at large. The Cole had stopped in Aden harbor for a routine fuel stop when a small fiberglass boat with C4 explosives directed by two suicide bombers approached the Cole. The explosion left a 40-by-60-foot hole in the ship’s port side. Some of the blast forced the deck to surge upward, killing crew members who were lining up for lunch. It took three days to get the damage under control.
The attack was the deadliest against a U.S. naval vessel since the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark in 1987. In June 2001, an al-Qaeda recruitment video that featured Osama bin Laden bragged about the attack. On March 14, 2007, Judge Robert G. Doumar ruled that the Sudanese government was liable for the bombing. He stated, “There is substantial evidence in this case presented by the expert testimony that the government of Sudan induced the particular bombing of the Cole by virtue of prior actions of the government of Sudan.”
The investigation in Yemen into the incident left U.S., FBI, and NCIS agents in danger; as Lawrence Wright wrote in “The Looming Tower,” “There were so many perceived threats that the agents often slept in their clothes and with their weapons at their sides.” The agents eventually abandoned their hotel and returned to a U.S. Navy vessel in the Bay of Aden, but when they returned to land, an agent said their helicopter took evasive action out of fear of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.
Sadly, by May 2008, all the terrorists convicted in the attack had escaped from prison or had been freed by Yemeni officials.
Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Ali Al-Badawi was convicted in Yemen and sentenced to death, but he escaped from a Yemeni jail in 2003. After being recaptured in March 2004, he escaped Yemeni custody in February 2006 by digging an escape tunnel that traveled from the prison to a mosque.
According to Trump administration officials, intelligence indicators showed al-Badawi was killed in the airstrike in Yemen’s Ma’rib Governorate. Further information indicated that the airstrike hit al-Badawi while he was driving alone.
U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command, told CNN in a statement, “U.S. forces conducted a precision strike Jan. 1st in the Marib governate, Yemen, targeting Jamal al-Badawi, a legacy al Qaeda operative in Yemen involved in the USS Cole bombing. U.S. forces are still assessing the results of the strike following a deliberate process to confirm his death.”