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2 Yemeni jail escapees charged in USS Cole bombing

Two Yemeni fugitives were named in a 50-count federal indictment Thursday alleging that they were key participants in al-Qaeda’s assault on the USS Cole in 2000. Seventeen American sailors died and 40 were wounded in the attack Oct. 12, 2000, in the harbor at Aden, Yemen. The first criminal charges related to the bombing of the destroyer include murder, the destruction of U.S. military property and the use of a weapon of mass destruction. Jamal Ahmed Mohammed Ali al-Badawi and Fahd al-Quso face the death penalty if they are captured and convicted. Al-Badawi and al-Quso were among 10 prisoners who escaped from a Yemeni jail last month. They had been held as suspected terrorists for more than two years. They remain the subjects of a global manhunt. Their escape played a significant role in the timing of the indictment, federal authorities said Thursday, and might increase the chances of the defendants standing trial in the United States. Yemen does not generally extradite its own citizens accused of crimes against other nations. Attorney General John Ashcroft suggested that the United States stood a better chance that al-Badawi and al-Quso might be captured in countries with more liberal extradition policies. For other governments, the indictment provides a foundation for the men’s arrest and possible transfer to U.S. custody. Full Story

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