A US official told CNN today that an airstrike probably killed al-Qaeda terrorist Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi, the mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000.
The attack killed 17 sailors and injured 39 others. Many believe the terrorist attack “foreshadowed the attack on the US less than one year later on September 11, 2001.”
While US Central Command, which oversees military operations in the region, later confirmed that al-Badawi was targeted in a strike, a spokesman said the US was still assessing the results.
“US 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,” US Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for Central Command, told CNN in a statement.
“US forces are still assessing the results of the strike following a deliberate process to confirm his death,” he added.
The airstrike caught al-Badawi as he drove alone. Officials believe “there was not any collateral damage.”
The FBI had al-Badawi on its most wanted terrorists list. A federal grand jury indicted him in 2003 and he faced “50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including murder of US nationals and murder of US military personnel.”
Al-Badawi was arrested by Yemeni authorities in December of 2000 and held in connection with the Cole attack but he escaped from a prison in Yemen in April of 2003.
He was recaptured by Yemeni authorities in March of 2004 but again escaped Yemeni custody in February 2006 after he and several other inmates used broomsticks and pieces of a broken fan to dig an escape tunnel that led from the prison to a nearby mosque.
The State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program had previously offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.
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