Jamal al-Badawi, the al-Qaeda militant behind the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, died in a US air strike, President Donald Trump has confirmed.
“Our great military has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole,” Mr Trump tweeted.
US defence officials said a “precision strike” was carried out last Tuesday east of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
Badawi was believed killed but that could not be confirmed at the time.
Seventeen US sailors were killed and at least 40 people were wounded in the attack which happened as the destroyer was refuelling in the port of Aden.
A US grand jury indicted Badawi in 2003 for his role in the bombing, and the FBI offered a reward of up to $5m (£4m) for information leading to his arrest.
In 2004 he was convicted of plotting and taking part in the attack but escaped from prison in Yemen and, after handing himself in again, was allowed to walk free.
Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2019
Speaking to the BBC last week, Captain Bill Urban of US Central Command said the air strike targeting Badawi took place in the Marib governorate.
What happened to the USS Cole?
On 12 October 2000 two Yemeni suicide bombers rammed the ship in a small boat packed with up to 225kg (500lb) of high explosives, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the warship.
The attack’s alleged planner, Saudi-born Abd al-Nashiri, is being held in US custody at Guantanamo Bay and could face the death penalty.