U.S. of­fi­cials visit Cole bomber at prison in Ye­men

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Ni­cholas Kralev

U.S. Em­bassy of­fi­cials in Ye­men vis­ited a Ye­meni man con­victed in the 2000 bomb­ing of the USS Cole in his prison cell Oct. 29, three days af­ter he was seen greet­ing rel­a­tives in his house.

U.S. and Ye­meni of­fi­cials con­firmed the visit but de­clined to dis­cuss de­tails about its length or sub­stance.

“We were able to phys­i­cally con­firm the pres­ence of Ja­mal Badawi at a prison in Aden,” a State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said.

It was not clear whether it satis- fied U.S. con­cerns about the sta­tus of the man, Ja­mal Badawi, who es­caped from prison along with 22 other con­victs last year and turned him­self in three weeks ago.

“Ja­mal Al-Badawi is in our cus­tody and re­mains de­tained un­der­go­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­cern­ing his es­cape from prison last year,” Ye­men’s In­te­rior Min­istry said.

“Ja­mal is fully co­op­er­at­ing, and the Ye­meni gov­ern­ment is op­ti­mistic about re­ceiv­ing cru­cial in­for­ma­tion about other al Qaeda op­er­a­tives in Ye­men and abroad.”

Rel­a­tives of Badawi’s told re­porters in Ye­men on Oct. 26 that his 15-year sen­tence — al­ready re­duced from his ini­tial death sen­tence — had been com­muted, and they had vis­ited him in his house in the south­ern port city of Aden, where the at­tack on the Navy ship took place seven years ago.

The In­te­rior Min­istry did not of­fer an ex­pla­na­tion for the rel­a­tives’ ac­count, but sources with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion said he had been al­lowed to visit his fam­ily be­cause of his co­op­er­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of al Qaeda.

The sources did not say how long Badawi was out of prison.

Ear­lier, the State De­part­ment said it was get­ting con­fus­ing re­ports about Badawi’s sta­tus. Diplo­mats did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity that Badawi was put un­der house ar­rest two weeks ago, but the Ye­meni au­thor­i­ties re­versed their de­ci­sion once they were lam­basted by Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

“This was some­one who was im­pli­cated in the Cole bomb­ing and some­one who can’t be run­ning free,” State De­part­ment spokesman Sean McCor­mack told re­porters.

“Our am­bas­sador is ac­tively work­ing that is­sue right now,” he said. “I can’t say that we have a firm un­der­stand­ing of ex­actly what the sit­u­a­tion is with re­spect to this in­di­vid­ual. Suf­fice it to say, in our view, this is some­body that needs to be be- hind bars.”

The Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Corp. (MCC), a U.S. gov­ern­ment en­tity help­ing the de­vel­op­ment of poor coun­tries, said it had de­cided to award Ye­men $20.6 mil­lion to “fight cor­rup­tion and im­prove per­for­mance on MCC’s indicators that mea­sure the rule of law, po­lit­i­cal rights and fis­cal pol­icy.”

“Orig­i­nally sched­uled to be signed Oct. 31, [MCC Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer] John Danilovich has de­cided to post­pone award­ing as­sis­tance to Ye­men and [we] are cur­rently un­der­tak­ing a re­view to de­ter­mine the coun­try’s fu­ture sta­tus with MCC,” the cor­po­ra­tion said.

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