A U.S. airstrike has killed the al-Qaeda mastermind behind the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors and wounded 39.
According to emerging reports, Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi was killed on Tuesday by a bomb whilst driving his car in the Ma’rib Governorate of Yemen. The Governorate is situated approximately 80 miles from Sana’a, the Yemeni capital. A U.S. Government official told CNN that the strike was the outcome of a joint U.S. military and intelligence agencies operation. He also highlighted that it didn’t produce any civilian collateral damage.
In the morning hours of October 12, 2000, a small craft packed with explosives and piloted by two suicide bombers rammed the USS Cole whilst the American ship was refueling. The terrorists had used between 400 and 700 pounds of C-4 explosives to turn the suicide craft into a moving hollow-shaped munition. The subsequent blast created a 40-by-60-foot hole on the port (left) side of the ship. After the attack, our own Brandon Webb was deployed to the wounded vessel with SEAL Team 3 to provide sniper support in case of a follow-up attack.
The al-Qaeda terrorist had been arrested by the Yemeni authorities twice, in 2000 and 2004, over his involvement in the incident. Both times, however, he had managed to escape. He had been on the run from the American military and intelligence agencies for the past 14 years. He had been one of the most wanted individuals on the FBI’s list and had a $5 million bounty on his head.
Yemen has been plagued by a civil war for the past three years. Both the Obama and Trump administrations have used the lawlessness that the civil war has brought to pursue and target al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In the past couple of years, the U.S. military alone has conducted 147 airstrikes.
In February 2017, days after President Donald Trump assumed office, a raid by SEAL Team 6 killed 14 al-Qaeda terrorists. However, Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens and three other service members were wounded. Ten civilians were also killed during the raid.
In December 2014, SEAL Team 6 operation in Yemen also didn’t go as planned. The SEALs were attempting to rescue two hostages, Luke Somers, an American journalist, and Pierre Korkie, a South African teacher. However, the Jihadists managed to kill the two hostages before the American commandos reached them.