The man at the helm of the USS Cole when it was attacked by an Al Qaeda cell in 2000 said last month’s release of a Guantanamo Bay detainee linked to the bombers denies justice to the 17 people killed aboard the ship.

Kirk Lippold, who was commanding officer of the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer when suicide bombers aboard a small fishing boat blew a hole in the side of the ship, told Mashur Abdallah Ahmed al Sabri’s release was a mistake.

“I would have liked to have seen him receive a military commission where he was tried, convicted and sentenced and then his suitability for release determined under the laws of armed conflict,” Lippold said.

“From the perspective of the American people and my crew, he’s never been held accountable,” Lippold added.

In addition to those killed, 39 service members were wounded in the Oct. 12, 2000 attack, which came as the Cole refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden, nearly a year before Al Qaeda would register its signature attack, on 9/11.

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