Report: US Officials Believe USS Cole, Embassy Bombings Linked
US officials said the attack on the USS Cole naval destroyer moored off Yemen last month appears to have been orchestrated by a group linked to the truck bombings of two US embassies in North Africa in 1998, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation is performing DNA tests on some bodily remains found at the scene of the blast, in an attempt to confirm the identities of two men who were aboard the small boat that exploded alongside the Cole on October 12, the newspaper said, citing unidentified US officials.
The Yemeni authorities are conducting blood tests on people believed to be related to those involved in the attack, in which 17 US sailors were killed, the sources told the newspaper.
The sources said US investigators have taken as a working hypothesis the theory that Saudi exile Osama bin Laden played a central role in the Cole attack, -- as in the attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed more than 200 people.
"There are some interesting links between some of the individuals involved in the Cole and East Africa," a US official told the newspaper. "A name has come up in Aden of someone involved in Nairobi."
After the 1998 bombings, the United States launched cruise missiles against sites it said were linked to Bin Laden in Afghanistan and Sudan.
General Henry Hugh Shelton, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters here Tuesday that some similar form of retaliation for the attack on USS Cole had not been ruled out.
"That is an option," he said, in answer to reporters' questions, the Washington Post reported. "Whether or not it would be the option selected would be driven by circumstances."
The newspaper noted that the previous US retaliation had been "widely criticized as ineffective or mistaken."
Bin Laden has been previously indicted in a New York court for allegedly plotting the East African bombings -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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