Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Before 9/11

[ED: this one comes from the tipline. Thanks Andrea!]

On October 12, 2000 a small boat came along side the USS Cole as it was taking on fuel in the Yemeni port of Aden. Two men on the smaller vessel detonated a bomb, blowing a 40' hole in the hull, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 more.

Then President Clinton made this promise. "We will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to find those who killed our sailors and hold them accountable." --October 14, 2000

The presumed mastermind of the attack,Abd al-Rahim al-Nashri, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates in November 2002 and currently resides at Guantanamo Bay. Five other men were arrested and tried by the Yemeni courts. Jamal al-Bedawi was sentenced to death for his part in the attack. He escaped from prison in April of 2003 but was recaptured in March 2004. He escaped again in February 2006.

On October 17, 2007, al-Badawi surrendered to Yemeni authorities as part of an agreement with al-Qaeda militants. Following his surrender, Yemeni authorities released him in return for a pledge not to engage in any violent or al-Qaeda-related activity, despite a $5 million reward for his capture

al-Badawi is still at large.

Gary Swenchonis Sr., the father of one of the sailors murdered on that October day has written an open letter to the President of Yemen.
President Saleh,

It has been over seven years now since our son and his mates were brutally murdered in your country on October 12, 2000 when terrorists attacked the USS Cole and murdered 17 innocent young sailors and injured 39 more.

Let me begin by thanking all the Yemenis who called us at our home and sent letters of condolence. The kindness, compassion, warmth and sympathy expressed in those calls and letters comforted us and gave us a strength that we carry with us today.

Unfortunately we never received a letter of condolence from you or your government sir. You never even denounced that horrible tragedy, nor did anyone in your government. On the contrary, your government hindered the investigation at every turn. But then, so did our own; US Ambassador Bodine continually obstructed the FBI’s investigation.

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