Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Ali al-Badawi has been killed in a U.S. Airstrike in Yemen. He was 50 years old. Al-Badawi masterminded the 2000 USS Cole bombing. CNN reported on January 4 that al-Badawi had been killed, citing a U.S. administration official. The airstrike took place in the Ma’rib Governorate in Yemen.
CNN has described the raid that killed al-Badawi as a “joint U.S. military and intelligence operation.” Officials said Al-Badawi was driving alone in a car when he was killed and that there were no other injuries.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Al-Badawi’s Masterminded Attack Killed 17 American Sailors
The attack took place in Aden, Yemen, on October 12, 2000. In May 2003, al-Badawi was indicted by a court in the United States for his role in the attack, the FBI has said. Al-Badawi was also indicted for a planned attack on the USS The Sullivans. That attack failed after a boat that al-Badawi had hired in Saudi Arabia to transfer a bomb sank due to the weight of the explosives.
The ship had been refueling in the area when the attack occurred. In total, 17 U.S. sailors were killed and 39 more were injured. The bombing represented the most deadly attack on a U.S. Navy ship since the Iraqi bombing of the USS Stark in May 1987. That attack killed 37 U.S. Navy personnel.
2. Al-Badawi Escaped From Prison in Yemen in February 2006
Al-Badawi was first captured in Yemen in 2000, he escaped from prison later that year during a transfer. CBS News reported that al-Badawi escaped into Yemen’s remote tribal lands.
He was recaptured in March 2004 and sentenced to death, That sentence was later reduced to 15 years in prison. Upon hearing his sentence, al-Badawi said, “This is an unjust verdict, this is an American verdict. There are no human rights in the world, except for the Americans. All the Muslims in the world are being used to serve American interests,” according to CBS News. Al-Badawi would escape prison again in February 2006 along with 12 other al-Qaeda operatives.
A CBS News report from the time detailed that the group escaped through a tunnel they had dug that ran into the women’s section of a mosque that was 180 yards from the prison. The CBS report said that the escape was a “deep embarrassment and puts Yemen’s determination” in the War on Terror into question. Among those who escaped with al-Badawi was Fawaz al-Rabihi, who was convicted of an attack on the French tanker, MV Limburg.
3. The State Department Offered a Reward of $5 Million for Information That Would Lead to Al
Al-Badawi had been considered a fugitive in Yemen up until his death. The U.S. State Department was offering a reward of $5 million for information that led to his capture. In October 2007, al-Badawi turned himself in to authorities in Yemen as part of peace negotiations. He was released with an agreement that he would no longer be active within Al-Qaeda.
4. Al-Badawi’s Co-Conspirator in the USS Cole Bombing Has Been in Custody Since 2002
Al-Badawi’s co-conspirator in the USS Cole bombing has been in U.S. custody since 2002. Adb al Rahim al-Nashiri was moved to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 2006. Al-Nashiri, a native of Saudi Arabia, was also sentenced to death in 2004, reported CBS News at the time.
5. Al-Badawi Has Been Active With Al-Qaeda Since the 1990s
Al-Badawi has been active with Al-Qaeda in his native Yemen since the 1990s. According to al-Badawi’s FBI Most Wanted page, he was a native of Al-Shargian, Makiris, in Yemen. The last major Al-Qaeda figure to have been killed in Yemen was Ibrahim al-Asiri, who was killed in August 2017, CNN reported at the time. Al-Asiri was considered to have been Al-Qaeda’s major bombmaker.