Bin Laden and Cole Bombers Linked
N E W Y O R K, Dec. 8 -- Yemeni investigators have provided the United States with a cache of clues that point to connections between suspects being held in the Cole bombing and members of Osama bin Laden’s organization, al Qaeda.
Key among those links, sources tell ABCNEWS, are telephone records going back to 1998 that show calls between telephones used by suspects in the Oct. 12 USS Cole bombing, and telephones belonging to suspects who were operating for bin Laden’s organization in East Africa before the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies there.
Investigators are still trying to learn the true identity of a man calling himself “Mohammed Omar” who the bombers called regularly in the United Arab Emirates.
The Net Widens
Sources say Yemeni investigators have also told their American counterparts the interrogation of two suspects in the Cole bombing yielded other bin Laden connections.
One suspect, Jamal Mohammed Al Badawi allegedly told Yemeni investigators that he was trained in bin Laden’s “Jihad Camp #1” in Afghanistan and also fought with bin Laden’s forces in Bosnia in 1994.
Another link, according to U.S. officials comes from suspect Fhad Al Quoso. Al Quoso allegedly told Yemeni investigators that he met with a man U.S. officials have identified as a “known associate” of bin Laden to collect more than $5,000 to re-finance the plot to attack a U.S. warship.
Sources tell ABCNEWS the bombers needed more money after their first attempt failed. On Jan. 3, U.S. sources say, the suspects set out with their bomb-laden boat to strike another destroyer, the USS Sullivans, but the explosives were too heavy and their boat sank a few feet from shore.
Sources say one of the bombers simply walked off the job in frustration and never returned.
The others went to get help, but when they returned, found that the outboard engine on the explosive-filled boat had been stolen.
After negotiations with denizens of the Port of Aden, they were able to buy their engine back, but it needed repairs. Reorganizing the plot took 10 months.