USS Cole attack defendants free

May 4, 2008 at 10:09 PM

ADEN, Yemen, May 4 (UPI) -- U.S. officials reportedly have had a hard time ensuring those convicted in the deadly 2000 attack on the USS Cole remain imprisoned in Yemen.

For example, The Washington Post reported Sunday, Jamal al-Badawi, a Yemeni who helped organize the plot, escaped prison twice, was recaptured both times and then was secretly released by the Yemeni government last fall. He was incarcerated yet again, only after complaints by U.S. officials who must make unannounced visits to make sure he's still behind bars, the Post said.

Other Cole conspirators, including Fahd al-Quso, were freed after short prison terms, the Post reported. Still others were among 23 al-Qaida members who escaped in 2006.

Yemen has rebuffed efforts to have al-Badawi and al-Quso extradited to the United States.

Two other suspected organizers, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Tawfiq bin Attash, were captured outside Yemen and are being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"After we worked day and night to bring justice to the victims and prove that these (al-) Qaida operatives were responsible, we're back to square one," said Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who investigated the bombing. "Do they have laws over there or not? It's really frustrating what's happening."

Seventeen U.S. sailors died when al-Qaida operatives steered a boat laden with explosives into the Cole while it was docked at Aden.

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