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Trump Praises U.S. Military for Killing Legacy Al-Qaeda Operative Behind USS Cole Bombing

Jamal al-Badawi, a suspect of the USS Cole destroyer's bombing in 2000 in the Yemeni port of Aden, gestures after an appeal court announced his judgementto 15 years in prison in the final appeal session trial, 26 February 2005. The court upheld today one death sentence against an Al-Qaeda militant …
KHALED FAZAA/AFP/Getty Images
KRISTINA WONG

President Trump on Sunday confirmed that the U.S. military killed Jamal al-Badawi, an al-Qaeda operative involved in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, in a New Year’s Day strike.

“Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. 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!” he tweeted:

U.S. Central Command then confirmed that al-Badawi was killed in a precision strike in Marib Governate in Yemen on January 1.

“Jamal al-Badawi was a legacy al Qaeda operative in Yemen involved in the USS Cole bombing. U.S. forces confirmed the results of the strike following a deliberate assessment process,” said U.S Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Urban in a statement.

Badawi helped plan the October 12, 2000, terrorist attack on the USS Cole destroyer, which was being serviced at Aden Harbor in Yemen.

In the attack, al-Qaeda terrorists steered a small bomb-laden boat alongside the Cole, where explosives were detonated, ripping a hole in the destroyer, killing 17 U.S. sailors and wounding at least 40 more crew members.

A federal grand jury indicted Badawi in 2003 and charged him with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including the murder of U.S. nationals and U.S. military personnel, according to CENTCOM.

He was charged for his role in the Cole bombing and attempting to attack the USS The Sullivans at the same harbor earlier that year.

Yemeni authorities captured Badawi in connection with the attack, but he escaped from prison in April 2003, according to the FBI. He was recaptured but escaped again in February 2006.

He surrendered in 2007, but Yemeni authorities secretly allowed him to remain free in exchange for helping capture other al-Qaeda operatives, according to the Washington Post. The State Department had offered as much as $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who served during the Obama administration, praised the news of Badawi’s death.

“The coverage of this targeted killing has missed a very important point. Yes, Badawi played a key role in the attack on the USS Cole BUT he also continued to plot attacks against the US. We are safer as a result of last week’s action,” he tweeted Monday:

Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser to former President George W. Bush, also praised the strike.

“God bless all those who served on the USS Cole when it was attacked and the families and shipmates of those killed who have waited 18+ years for justice,” she tweeted on Sunday:

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