US Airstrike Targeted Militant Tied to USS Cole Bombing

Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi was an al-Qaeda operative who the U.S. believes helped orchestrate the October 12, 2000, attack on the Norfolk based USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors.

USA forces carried out an airstrike in Yemen on New Year's Day targeting an Al Qaeda operative suspected of being involved in the deadly 2000 attack on the USS Cole, a military official confirmed Friday.

Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said Friday that a precision airstrike in Yemen's Marib governorate on Tuesday targeted Jamal al-Badawi, one of six al-Qaida operatives convicted of the bombing and a fugitive on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Other sources, however, said Al-Badawi was believed to have been killed.

The U.S. has been criticized under both the Obama and Trump administrations for excessive civilian casualties from drone strikes conducted over the past 16 years, with some estimates claiming nearly a third of those killed in the strikes were not terrorists, although investigators concede it can be hard to determine who belongs to al-Qaeda or any other faction in Yemen. The attack also wounded 39 sailors. The ship was refueling at the port of Aden in Yemen when suicide bombers attacked in a small boat filled with explosives.

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Al-Badawi was on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists after he helped orchestrate the attack on the US Navy guided missile destroyer on October 12, 2000. He managed to escape a second time in February 2006, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, another al Qaeda militant, has been in U.S. custody since 2002 in connection with the Cole attack.

Al-Badawi is also not the first high-profile al-Qaeda target that the United States has killed in Yemen.

Al-Asiri, a native of Saudi Arabia, was the mastermind behind the "underwear bomb" attempt to detonate on a flight above the skies of Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

Meanwhile, a USA military strike in al-Dayman, Yemen, on Friday targeted operatives for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to an official.

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