The Bush administration expressed disappointment with Yemen's
decision to release the man regarded as the mastermind of the Al Qaida
attack on the USS Cole in Aden in 2000.
"The United States is dismayed and deeply disappointed in the government
of Yemen's decision not to imprison [Al] Badawi," National Security Council
spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. "This action is inconsistent with a
deepening of our bilateral counterterrorism cooperation."
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Officials said Sanaa has largely failed to respond to a significant U.S.
investment in Yemen's military and security forces. They pointed to about
$100 million in U.S. military and security assistance since 2004, which
included the formation of Yemen's coast guard.
"We have communicated our displeasure to Yemeni officials and will work
with the Yemeni government to ensure Al Badawi is held accountable for his
past terrorist actions," Johndroe said on Oct. 26.
In 2004, Al Badawi was convicted of plotting and conducting the bombing
of the USS Cole. A Yemeni court condemned Al Badawi to death, but the
sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison.
Still, officials said, Yemen has failed to keep Al Badawi and other Al
Qaida operatives behind bars. He escaped prison twice since 2004, allegedly
with help of Yemeni jailers. The FBI has offered $5 million for information
that would lead to his arrest.
Officials said the release of Jamal
Al Badawi violated a pledge to capture and prosecute those behind the
suicide attack in which 17 American sailors were killed.
In mid-October, Al Badawi surrendered to Yemeni authorities in an
arrangement that allowed him to return home to Aden. Al Badawi,
officials said, pledged loyalty to the regime of Yemeni President Ali
On Sunday, Yemen asserted that Al Badawi was still in detention. But the
Yemeni Interior Ministry would not elaborate.