Key USS Cole Suspect Jamal al-Badawi Killed In US Airstrike, Says Trump

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Jamal al-Badawi, the Yemeni al-Qaida operative, was accused of organizing the 2000 attack on the USS Cole

Jamal al-Badawi, the Yemeni al-Qaida operative accused of organizing the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, has been killed in a U.S. airstrike, President Donald Trump said Sunday.

"Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole," Trump said in a tweet.

"We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi," the president added. "Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism!"

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U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, confirmed Badawi's death in a statement Sunday afternoon.

"U.S. CENTCOM has confirmed that Jamal al-Badawi was killed in a precision strike in Marib governate, Jan. 1," it said in a tweet. "Jamal al-Badawi was an al Qaeda operative involved in the USS Cole bombing. U.S. forces confirmed the results of the strike following a deliberate assessment process."

Seventeen American sailors were killed and more than 40 were injured in the Oct. 12, 2000 attack, in which al-Qa1da suicide bombers pulled up to the refueling destroyer in an explosives-laden boat and blasted a hole in its hull.

Navy Capt. William Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said Friday that military leaders were assessing the results of the airstrike, the Associated Press reported.

Badawi was sentenced to death by a Yemeni court in 2004, then had his sentence reduced to 15 years in prison. He made two successful jailbreaks in 2003 and 2006; after he surrendered in 2007, authorities in Yemen secretly made a deal to allow him to remain free in exchange for aiding in the search and capture of other al-Qaida operatives.

News of the deal put a strain on relations between Yemen and the United States, where Badawi had been indicted by a federal grand jury on murder and terrorism charges and the State Department had offered a $5 million bounty for his capture.

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