Yemeni al Qaeda leader Jamal Badawi has surrendered to police in Yemen. Badawi was the leader of the al Qaeda cell that responsible for the December 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen. Al Qaeda carried out the bombing using suicide attackers in explosive-laden inflatable boats. Seventeen 17 US sailors were killed in the strike. The FBI placed a $5 million reward for Badawi’s capture.
Badawi is believed to have surrendered to authorities after negotiations with the government to halt attacks in exchange for a reduced sentence or freedom if he promises to eschew violence. Yemen has had a revolving door policy of jailing and releasing al Qaeda operatives in exchange for promises to lay down their arms.
One of 23 al Qaeda operatives who escaped from a jail in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa in February 2006, Badawi was accompanied by some infamous terrorists. Among those who escaped were Fawaz al Rabe’ie, the leader of the al Qaeda cell that attacked the French oil tanker Limburg in 2002, and Jaber Elbaneh, a member of the “Lackawanna Six” cell from Buffalo, New York. Al Rabe’ie was killed in October 2006, while Elbaneh, who is still wanted by the FBI, surrendered to Yemeni officials in May 2007.
The February 2006 jailbreak, which is widely believed to have been facilitated by al Qaeda sympathizers in the Interior MInistry, was Badawi’s second escape from prison. Badawi also escaped from a Yemeni jail in April 2003 after being detained in connection with the USS Cole attack.
Badawi is also one of 33 Yemeni al Qaeda operatives on trial for “forming an armed group with the aim of perpetrating criminal acts … by attacking foreign residents in Yemen, the clients of a hotel … and causing explosions targeting vital installations.” The plots included and aborted strikes against an oil refinery in Marib and a fuel storage depot at the Dhabba terminal in September 2006. The accused face 10 to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Al Qaeda in Yemen is accused of conducting the July 2007 suicide bombing in the tourist town of Marib, which killed eight Spanish tourists and two Yemeni guides. Wanted al Qaeda operatives Kassem Al Raimi and Nasser Al Wehaishi, who also escaped from jail with Badawi in 2006, are believed to be behind the Marib bombing. They are still on the run.
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