Two USS Cole bombing prime suspects arrested again [Archives:2004/722/Front Page]

March 22 2004

Mohammed Al-Qadhi
The Yemeni authorities announced on Friday that the two prime suspects in the USS Cole suicide bombing were arrested after gunfire with the police.
Meanwhile, reliable sources also revealed that two more of the suspects chased for relations to the USS Cole bombing were arrested on Saturday. According to the sources, all of those arrested belonged to al-Badwi's group. Among them was Sameer Abdullah Al-Balaki, who was reportedly arrested while he was disguised in woman clothes in a vehicle on its way to Shabwa.
The source said that the arrest of Jamal Mohammed Ahmad al-Badwi, alias Abu Abdulrahman, and Fahd al-Qis'e Mohammed Ahmad alias, Abu Hudaifah, took place on Friday morning after a hunt the security and military troops have been conducting for over 20 days in the governorate of Abyan, after they recognized their hideout.
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Official sources said that the two militants started firing at the police men when they were stopped at a checkpoint posted in the al-Mahfad area 250 km to the north of Aden; security men shot at the car they were driving, injuring al-Badwi and al-Qis'e in their legs; they were soon taken to Basuhaib military hospital. But, the official source quoted by the state-run Saba News Agency did not give details of the operation.
However, the two militants were reported to have been taken later in the day from the hospital to Sana'a after they received the necessary medical treatment as they were not seriously injured.
Eyewitnesses in the area told Yemen Times that gunfire took place between a group of militants led by al-Badwi and government troops and that al-Badwi and al-Qis'e were arrested after they were injured while other militants escaped to the rugged mountains in the area and that security and military were deployed there to track down the fugitives.
The two men have already been in detention. The militants were detained in connection with the bombing of the US warship USS Cole in October 12, 2000, which killed 17 American sailors. However, they were able to escape along with other 8 al-Qaeda suspects from the prison of the Political Security Organization in April 11, 2003 in Aden after the two men were able to dig a hole in the wall of the bathroom of the jail.
The authorities then announced a financial reward of about YR 1 million for those who would give information leading to the arrest of any of the ten al-Qaeda militants.
Al-Badwi is believed to have played a substantial role in preparing for the USS Cole bombing; he bought the boat used in the operation after he met some people close to Osama Bin Laden; al-Badwi traveled to a neighboring country to Yemen where he bought the boat. He deceived the authorities by giving the boat to two persons to carry out the terrorist attack. Al-Badwi was concerned with filming the operation from a house in a hill overlooking the Aden port where the USS Cole was. The two militants are considered the last people to be arrested of the 10-member group who escaped the prison, as others were arrested in several military campaigns carried out by the government troops.
Political observer said that it seems the government troops would succeed this time in Abyan in arresting the wanted people without resorting to heavy operations like that of last year where several people were killed from the two sides. The government preferred this time intelligence work before launching any military operation.
Earlier this month Yemeni security forces arrested two senior Al-Qaeda members during a hunt for Islamic militants in a mountainous area of the Abyan province.
Abdul Rauf Nassib, a top Yemeni Al-Qaeda leader, and Egyptian Sayyed Imam Sharif, an influential member of the militant organization, were both captured in the same operation. However, elder son of Nassib denied that his brother is a member of al-Qaeda and he was not arrested but he himself surrendered to the security when he knew that he was wanted by.
Nassib was also wanted for allegedly planning the escape of 10 militants from an Aden prison in April 2003.
Nassib, also known as Abu Mihjim, is said to have worked closely with Al-Qaeda's leader Mohammed Al-Ahdel, who was arrested in Yemen last year. It is believed that Nassib survived the Nov. 2002 missile attack in the Marib province that was carried out by the CIA and one of its drones. The attack killed a top Al-Qaeda operative, Qaed Salim Sinan Al-Harethi who is believed to have masterminded the USS Cole operation.