Jamal Al Badawi 06012019
Jamal Al Badawi looks from behind bars during the session of a Sana'a court of appeals hearing in Yemen December 8, 2004. Image Credit: Reuters

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump confirmed Sunday that the US military has killed one of the architects of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that left 17 American servicemen dead.

The military said Friday that Al Qaida operative Jamal Al Badawi was believed to have been killed in a precision strike in Yemen.

"Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole," Trump tweeted. "We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal Al Badawi."

Seventeen US sailors died and at least 40 people were wounded in the October 2000 attack , in which suicide bombers almost sank the guided missile destroyer while it lay in Aden harbour.

The chief suspect Abdel Rahim Al Nashiri is being held in Guantanamo Bay.

Badawi was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003 and charged with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including murder of US nationals and murder of US military personnel.

Apart from his alleged role in the USS Cole attack, in which he was said to have supplied boats and explosives, he is also charged with attempting with co-conspirators to attack a US Navy vessel in January 2000.

The FBI had placed Badawi on its most wanted list, offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

According to the agency, he was captured by Yemeni authorities in connection with the attack but escaped from prison in April 2003. He was recaptured in March 2004, but again escaped in February 2006.