Bin Laden Reads Poem on Cole Bombing

D U B A I, U.A.E, March 1, 2001 -- Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden described in a poem how the USS Cole destroyer slowly sailed to its doom at Aden port, where a suicide bombing attack killed 17 U.S. sailors on board, a newspaper reported today.

The Saudi-owned pan-Arab al-Hayat said bin Laden read the poem at the wedding of his son, Mohammad, in the southern Afghan town of Kandahar last Monday to the cheers of hundreds of Arab militant supporters.

"Your brothers in the East prepared their mounts and Kabul has prepared itself and the battle camels are ready to go," the paper quoted bin Laden's poem, written in Arabic, as saying.

"A destroyer: even the brave fear its might. It inspires horror in the harbor and in the open sea. She goes into the waves flanked by arrogance, haughtiness and fake might. To her doom she progresses slowly, clothed in a huge illusion.

"Awaiting her is a dinghy, bobbing in the waves, disappearing and reappearing in view," continues the poem, in an apparent reference to what witnesses said were two men on a small boat that exploded alongside the Cole as it refueled at Aden port in October.

Links to Cole Bombing

Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi dissident believed to be living in Afghanistan, has been accused by the United States of masterminding the 1998 attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Washington has named bin Laden as one of the suspects in the Cole bombing. Bin Laden has denied involvement in the attack.

Yemen is holding six main suspects and a dozen others in connection with the attack. Some are said to be Islamic militants. It has said it was possible that bin Laden was linked to the bombing, but that it had no proof so far.

Al-Hayat, which carried a photograph of bin Laden and his son at the wedding, said its correspondent was the only journalist at the ceremony, also attended by bin Laden's mother, two brothers and sister who flew to Kandahar from Saudi Arabia.

Officials from Afghanistan's ruling Taliban also attended.

Qatar's al-Jazeera television in January broadcast footage of bin Laden celebrating the wedding of his son Mohammed to the daughter of one of his aides.

It is sometimes customary in Islam to hold the religious wedding ceremony to be followed at a later date by a social celebration.