An al-Qaida militant accused of masterminding the deadly suicide-bombing attack on the USS Cole naval destroyer in 2000 has been killed in an airstrike, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday.
“Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi,” Trump said in a tweet.
Seventeen American sailors were killed and dozens injured in the attack by multiple suicide bombers, which was carried out while the explosives-laden boat was refueling at the Yemeni port of Aden.
The stunning assault foreshadowed the more deadly attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that launched the American war against terrorism, still underway in various parts of the Middle East including in Yemen.
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Al-Badawi, a Yemeni national and the suspected mastermind of the attack, was indicted by a U.S. grand jury in 2003 and charged with 50 terrorism-related offences.
He was twice arrested by Yemeni authorities but escaped prison in 2003 and again in 2006, according to the FBI.
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A Pentagon spokesman said Friday that U.S. forces were working to confirm whether al-Badawi was killed in airstrikes east of the Yemeni capital Sanaa earlier last week.
— With a file from the Associated Press