The U.S. military on Sunday announced the death of al-Qaeda operative Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi, who played a key role in the USS Cole bombing in Yemen nearly 20 years ago.
Al-Badawi, who was 55 or 58 years old, was killed on Tuesday when U.S. forces carried out a precision airstrike in Ma’rib province, which is located to the northeast of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a.
Local sources said on Friday that al-Badawi had been killed in an airstrike, but the U.S. military needed more time to confirm his death. The confirmation of his death was announced by U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Our great military has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole,” Trump said on Twitter. “We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism!”
A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNN on Friday that Al-Badawi was struck while driving alone in a vehicle in Ma’rib province. The official said there was no indication of collateral damage.
Al-Badawi was indicted in the U.S. in May 2003 for his role in the October 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39 others. Two suicide bombers carried out the attack.
Safehouses which were used by the attackers were arranged by Al-Badawi, who was a key al-Qaeda operative in Aden province, according to U.S. prosecutors. He also traveled to Saudi Arabia to buy a boat large enough to carry explosives, as well as a trailer and truck to tow the boat.
Al-Badawi was charged with 50 counts of terrorism-related offenses, including murder of U.S. nationals and murder of U.S. military personnel. He and others were also charged with trying to attack the USS The Sullivans about 8 months earlier, on January 3, 2000.
Al-Badawi was detained by Yemeni authorities in early 2003 but escaped from prison soon after. He was recaptured in March 2004 and sentenced to death, but nearly two years later he managed to escape a second time. He was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list and was a fugitive for nearly 13 years.