Yemeni Minister: USS Cole Blast in Planning Since 1997
The deadly October bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port city of Aden was in the planning for the past three years, Yemen's Interior Minister Hussein Arab said in an interview published Tuesday.
"We have not been unable to uncover everything" about the bombing, which killed 17 US sailors, he told the Emirati newspaper Al-Bayan.
But the interior minister said the Yemeni authorities believed the October 12 attack was "prepared and planned in Yemen since 1997" by former anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan.
Police are still hunting several Yemeni suspects in the bombing, he said.
Of the six main suspects under arrest, "three were directly implicated in the attack and the other three helped forge identity cards" for the two suspected suicide bombers in Aden, said Arab.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has named the man who gave orders for the attack but said investigators had yet to identify the mastermind.
"We are looking for the man who gave instructions to the two people who carried out the operation. His name is Muhammad Omar al-Harazi," Saleh told the Washington Post in an interview published Sunday.
"He is at large, and the security authorities are trying to find him," Saleh said. "He is the main suspect who funded the operation and the safe houses in Aden. He is the mastermind, but we believe someone else was behind him."
Saleh said he was uncertain of the involvement of Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born millionaire charged by the United States with masterminding the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa that killed more than 220 people -- DUBAI (AFP)
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