One of the main plotters behind the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that left 17 American servicemen dead may have been killed in Yemen, the American military said Friday.
“US forces conducted a precision strike Jan. 1st in the Marib (governorate), Yemen, targeting Jamal al-Badawi, a legacy Al-Qaeda operative in Yemen involved in the USS Cole bombing,” said Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command.
“US forces are still assessing the results of the strike following a deliberate process to confirm his death.”
A rubber boat loaded with explosives blew up as it rounded the bow of the guided-missile destroyer, which had just pulled into Aden for a five- to six-hour refueling stop, on October 12, 2000.
Seventeen American sailors were killed as well as the two perpetrators of the attack that was claimed by Al-Qaeda, in an early success for the terror group and its founder Osama Bin Laden.
The chief suspect Abdel Rahim al-Nashiri is being held in Guantanamo Bay.
Badawi was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 and charged with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including murder of US nationals and murder of US military personnel.
Apart from his alleged role in the USS Cole attack, in which he was said to have supplied boats and explosives, he is also charged with attempting with co-conspirators to attack a US Navy vessel in January 2000.
The FBI had placed Badawi on its most wanted list, offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
According to the agency, he was captured by Yemeni authorities in connection with the attack but escaped from prison in April 2003. He was recaptured in March 2004, but again escaped in February 2006.