15 May 2003
Ashcroft Announces Indictment of Two in USS Cole Bombing
(Yemeni suspects are still at large) (610)
By Wendy S. Ross
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Attorney General John Ashcroft announced May 15 that a
federal grand jury in Manhattan has indicted two Yemeni fugitives for
the October 2000 bombing attack on the USS Cole in the harbor of Aden,
Yemen, that killed seventeen Americans and wounded more than 40
Speaking at a news conference at FBI headquarters in Washington,
Ashcroft described the two men, who are still at large, as "al Qaeda
associates" and Yemeni nationals who had been in Yemeni custody until
escaping from a prison in that country in April.
The two are identified as Jamal Mohammad Ali al-Badawi, about 40, and
Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, 39.
Ashcroft said the Justice Department earlier in the day unsealed a
50-count indictment against the two, issued by a grand jury in the
Southern District of New York. The charges include murder, attempted
murder and conspiracy to destroy U.S. property.
"The indictment charges two defendants with crimes and terror offenses
connected with their roles in the bombing of the USS Cole, as well as
their previous attempt to bomb another U.S. Navy ship, the USS The
Sullivans," he said.
Both Badawi and Quso, Ashcroft said, are alleged to be long-time al
Qaeda terrorist associates who were trained in the al Qaeda terrorist
camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s.
"As the indictment alleges, they were schooled in Osama bin Laden's
hate, and vowed to attack and kill Americans wherever and whenever
they could, especially American nationals on the Arabian peninsula.
The indictment alleges that it was bin Laden's pronouncements to kill
Americans that motivated the defendants to conduct these terror
operations," the attorney general said.
The indictment also names as unindicted co-conspirators Osama bin
Laden, who the indictment alleges planned the Cole attack, and several
high-ranking members of al Qaeda, some of whom have already been
charged in other terrorism indictments, such as the bombing of two
U.S. embassies in Africa.
Wanted posters of the two, including pictures and descriptions, are
accessible on the FBI Web site at fbi.gov.
Ashcroft said the United States did not know whether the two were
still in Yemen or had fled abroad. "We do not know where they are. We
are asking people around the world to help us" find them, he added.
Ashcroft was joined in the news conference by FBI Director Robert
Mueller, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Michael
Chertoff, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York James
Comey and Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
"This indictment reminds the world that we must never falter in our
pursuit of justice for crimes committed anywhere, anytime, against
innocent people," Chertoff said.
Mueller said, "The dedication and perseverance of investigators
involved in this case has been nothing short of extraordinary. They
worked long hours under difficult conditions. Despite these hardships,
our investigators -- working closely with their colleagues in Yemen
and with each other -- did a simply outstanding job."
And Comey said "Today's indictment can never bring back those brave
souls, but we hope it provides some measure of comfort by
demonstrating that we will never rest in tracking down terrorists.
This indictment is but one step in the war on terror, but it is an
important one. And, it will not be the last."
Ashcroft met earlier in the day in Washington with friends and family
members of victims of the Cole bombing and said for them the attack is
still a fresh wound.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: