The terrorists who bombed the USS Cole in Yemen, killing 17 US sailors, likely acted without the direct support of any foreign government, a senior US counter-terrorism official said Tuesday.
Michael Sheehan, the State Department counter-terrorism coordinator, said however it was "premature" to link suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to the October 12 suicide attack in Aden.
"The dots are coming together. It remains unclear in my mind exactly what happened or who was involved. That's going to take a little more time. We'll be very cautious before making any pronouncement," Sheehan said. "But my guess right now is that it is not going to be state-sponsored."
The United States has vowed not to let the killings go unpunished but has stopped short of threatening military retaliation in the event a foreign government is found to be behind the attack.
By state sponsorship, Sheehan said he meant a situation in which a state or its intelligence services directed, organized or facilitated the attack in a proactive way.
"It's probably unlikely that's the case," he said. "That's not to say we're not going to hold some states accountable for the actual event if they provided sanctuary for anybody involved in it, or any other duties" -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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