The Pentagon confirmed Friday that Jamal al-Badawi, an al Qaeda operative the U.S. believes was involved with the USS Cole bombing in 2000, was targeted in a recent precision strike. But it remains uncertain if al-Badawi was killed in the strike.
"We are aware of reports that Jamal al-Badawi was killed in a strike in Yemen,” Capt. Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman said in a statement. “U.S. forces conducted a precision strike Jan. 1st in the Marib governate, Yemen, targeting Jamal al-Badawi, a legacy al Qaeda operative in Yemen involved in the USS Cole bombing. U.S. forces are still assessing the results of the strike following a deliberate process to confirm his death.”
Earlier Friday, a U.S. administration official told CNN that intelligence indicators show that the strike did kill al-Badawi and that he was hit while driving in a vehicle by himself. The same official said the U.S. concluded there was no collateral damage resulting from the strike.
Al-Badawi, one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists who has previously escaped prison in Yemen, was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 and was charged with 50 counts of terrorism offenses.
He is also wanted for his involvement in the USS Cole bombing, which was conducted by suicide bombers carrying explosives near the U.S. destroyer in Yemen. The October 2000 attack took the lives of 17 sailors and injured another 39.
A reward of $5 million was once put forward by the State Department's Rewards for Justice Program if information could be provided that would lead to his arrest.
The U.S. military conducted 131 airstrikes in Yemen in 2017, and 36 in 2018, most of which were directed toward al Qaeda.