The terrorist behind the 2000 attack on the USS Cole was believed killed in an American airstrike in Yemen on New Year’s Day, the government said Friday.
The State Department had offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi for helping organize the attack, which killed 17 American sailors on Oct. 12, 2000.
Although the government hadn’t officially confirmed his death Friday afternoon, administration officials said Al-Badawi, an al-Qaueda operative who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list, was alone in a vehicle in Yemen's Ma'rib Governorate during Tuesday's airstrike.
There didn’t appear to be any collateral damage, they said.
Suicide bombers pulled up to the Cole in a small boat packed with explosives when it stopped for refueling in Adlen Yemen – in a foreshadowing of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. a year later.
Besides the deaths, 39 sailors were wounded.
Yemeni authorities arrested Al-Badawi for the Cole attack in December 2000, but he escaped in April 2003.
They caught him a year later – and two years after that he escaped again with several other prisoners after digging a tunnel to a nearby mosque using broomsticks and pieces of a broken fan.
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