It was Al Qaeda’s second successful strike against American targets. In August, 1998, operatives had bombed the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania simultaneously, killing 224 people. Yet an important part of the Cole plot had failed: Fahd al-Quso, a member of Al Qaeda’s support team in Aden, was supposed to videotape the blast for propaganda purposes, but he slept through a morning alarm and did not set up his camera in time. Quso was in a taxi at the moment of the explosion, and he immediately went into hiding.
|Former FBI special agent Ali Soufan|
Soufan’s language skills, his relentlessness, and his roots in the Middle East made him invaluable in helping the F.B.I. understand Al Qaeda, an organization that few Americans were even aware of before the embassy bombings.
|"Brother John is missing..."|
Like many naturalized citizens, Soufan felt indebted for the new life he had been given. Although he was poised for an academic career, he decided—“almost as a joke,” he says—to send his résumé to the F.B.I. He thought it was nearly inconceivable that the bureau would hire someone with his background.
The USS Cole was severely damaged, but returned to Norfolk on the heavy-lift ship Blue Marlin. The destroyer returned to service on 29 November 2003. The Al Qaeda terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack.
|Ex-FBI special agent Ali Soufan, right, |
as the FBI's lead investigator on the USS Cole
bombing suspected a larger Al Qaeda plot.
UPDATE: From the Office of Military Commissions, Department of Defense. In 2002, an arrest was made. The accused Abd al-Rahim Hussein Muhammed Abdu Al-Nashiri, a Saudi Arabian has been charged with masterminding the USS Cole attack. He remains in custody as of September 11, 2021. Another terrorist behind the 2000 attack on the USS Cole is believed to have been killed in a US airstrike in Yemen in 2019, according to a US administration official. Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi was an al Qaeda operative who the US believes helped orchestrate the October 12, 2000, attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors, including San Diegan Lakiba Palmer.