Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh named the man who gave orders for the attack on the USS Cole two months ago but said in an interview published Sunday that investigators had yet to identify the mastermind behind it.
"We are looking for the man who gave instructions to the two people who carried out the operation. His name is Muhammed Omar al-Harazi," Saleh told the Washington Post, in an interview that will also be published Monday in Newsweek magazine.
"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."
Seventeen US sailors died when an explosion severely damaged the guided missile destroyer Cole in Yemen's Aden harbor on October 12.
Saleh added that he was uncertain whether that mastermind of the attack was Osama bin Laden, a Saudi-born billionaire charged by the United States with masterminding the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa, in which more than 220 people were killed.
"We are still searching for one or two people in order to disclose who is ultimately behind the crime," Saleh said. "Is it bin Laden? Israeli intelligence? Or someone else?"
He added, however, that investigators were "80 percent" certain that the two men suspected of carrying out the crime were born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They were of Yemeni origin and were trained in Afghanistan, where bin Laden is based, he said.
Asked if the suspects would be put on trial in the United States, he said Yemen's constitution does not permit extradition -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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