Attash masterminded USS Cole attack, U.S. officials say [Archives:2007/1035/Local News]

March 22 2007

SANA'A, March 21 ) Former Al-Qaeda leader Walid Attash admitted to masterminding the Oct. 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

At a hearing session, Attash told a military committee that he purchased the explosives and mobilized a team that bombed the destroyer during a routine refueling stop in Aden for several hours. He added that he planned the operation a year before the attack.

Regarding his involvement in attacks against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Attash admitted that he was an intermediary between Osama Bin Laden and his associate, Sheikh Abudulrahim Al-Nashri, stressing that he met with the operation's executer just hours before the attack.

Attash, a Yemeni national, was born in Saudi Arabia and was the former guard of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and helped reinforce the organization's fortifications in Tora Bora. U.S. officials say Attash recruited the suicide bombers who attacked the USS Cole and further mobilized two other suicide bombers who participated in the Sept, 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City.

Pakistan has arrested more than 400 people suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, including Khalid Sheikh and Ramzi bin Al-Shaibah, who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.

Arresting Attash is considered the largest successful operation in ongoing efforts to hunt for Al-Qaeda members.

The families of the USS Cole victims demand their government compensate them for $105 million to be collected from the Sudanese government's frozen bank assets abroad.

Yemen closed the USS Cole file after rulings were issued against six defendants in the case. The State Security Specialized Penal Court ordered capital punishment in absentia for Abudulrahim Al-Nashri, who is jailed in the U.S., and sentenced the other five to ranging prison terms.