USS Cole suspected bombers to be tried soon [Archives:2002/40/Front Page]

September 30 2002

A Yemeni official source said Saturday that the USS Cole bombing suspects will be brought before court soon. He said the Yemeni-US officials agreed to present the detained suspects to court in the coming few days, without giving a date and the number of the detainees. He pointed out that all arrestees and those who have been proved to be involved in the USS Cole bombing in Aden, 12 October, 2000 will be tried. But, for those who are still on the run, they will be hunted down and presented for tribunal. They will not be tried in absentia.
PSO sources told the parliament fact-finding committee on the terrorism detainees situation that they are 104 detainees and that 15 of them are in jail on charges of USS Cole bombing.
The Yemeni official source said they will be tried at a Yemeni court in Aden, according to Yemeni laws and Constitution. The tribunal sessions will not be public.
Yemeni and US authorities are still hunting down for someone called Abdulraheem al-Nashery, whose other neck names are also al-Harazi and al-Saafani. He is suspected of being the mastermind of the USS Cole operation that killed 17 and wounded 39 others of US marines. Al-Harazi has been reported to have escaped from Yemen to Pakistan one month earlier to the incident after making sure of the success of the operation.
Yemeni authorities carried out a massive arrest campaign after the incident, detaining around 80 suspects from different governorates, mainly Aden, Shabwah, and Abyan. Tens of them were released later on as they have been proved innocent. Only fifteen remained in jail as they were proved guilty.
The US officials repeatedly requested the Yemeni authorities to postpone the trial for collecting more information on the incident, mainly from the al-Qaeda detainees in Guantanamo. The US officials are believed to have obtained more information from these detainees about the one who masterminded the operation.
Yemeni official sources said earlier this month that a US team of investigators will arrive in Yemen to discuss with the Yemeni side closing down the Cole file and present the detainees to court. The US ambassador, Edmund Hull said September 11, 2002 that US investigators worked together with their Yemeni counterparts on last bombing that killed two al-Qaeda elements in Sana’a early August. The two killed elements were preparing for a terrorist operation. A number of explosives were found in their flat.
The Yemeni authorities arrested over 70 persons living in the same neighborhood. Later, 50 were released and around 20 are still in jail.