Jan. 4 (UPI) -- A U.S. airstrike in western Yemen may have killed one of the men suspected of coordinating a terror bombing on the USS Cole in 2000 that killed 17 U.S. sailors, Defense officials said Friday.
U.S. Central Command spokesman Navy Capt. William Urban identified the man as al-Qaida militant Jamal al-Badawi in a statement to NBC News.
The airstrike took place Tuesday in the governate of Marib, about 75 miles east of the capital of Sanaa.
"U.S. forces are still assessing the results of the strike following a deliberate process to confirm his death," Urban told The Washington Post.
A federal grand jury indicted Badawi on 50 counts in 2003 for the bombing.
The USS Cole, a Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, was preparing to refuel in a Yemeni harbor on Oct. 12, 2000, when a group of small boats from the country's port authority approached to help tie the ship to buoys.
One of these small harbor boats tied off a single line, then pulled up along the Cole and apparently detonated a "significant" explosive package, the Navy said. It blew an 800-square-foot hole at the midpoint of the port side of the ship, tearing apart the Cole's half-inch-thick steel hull.
The explosion destroyed an engine room and an auxiliary room and damaged the chief petty officers' dining room and the crew galley.
Seventeen sailors, ranging in age from 19 to 35, died in the blast. Another 39 sustained injuries.