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Thursday, 19 October, 2000, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Yemen blast inquiry yields clues
Mourners at Wednesday's memorial service for the dead US sailors
Mourners at the memorial service for the dead US sailors
The President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has said that more is now known about the men who bombed a US warship in Aden last week, killing 17 US sailors.

One witness said the accent was a Saudi accent... They may be Yemenis or other Arabs

President Ali Abullah Saleh
He said two men, seen in a small boat next to the USS Cole before the blast, were Arabs who used explosives found only in two Arab countries.

His comments came as a former CIA counter-terrorism chief, Vincent Cannistraro, suggested that the Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden could have planned the attack with help from Iraq.

Mr bin Laden issued his first statement for two years on Tuesday, vowing to continue his battle against "the enemies of Islam".


On Monday, US and Yemeni investigators found bomb-making equipment in an empty apartment in Aden. President Saleh said they had now found a car used by the bombers, and the launcher that lowered their boat into the water.

Yemen map
"The boat came from [the port of] Hodeidah, the engine came from Aden," he told Qatar's satellite television, al-Jazeera.

Asked about media reports that the two men were Saudi nationals, he said: "One witness said the accent was a Saudi accent... They may be Yemenis or other Arabs."

The president said samples of explosives taken from the destroyer had been identified by US investigators as of a type available only in Israel, the USA, and two Arab countries, which he declined to name.

He said that the authorities had obtained a photograph of one of the bombers, as well as shreds of skin and clothing recovered from the scene.

State involvement

The Iraqis have wanted to carry out terrorism for some time now

Ex-CIA counter-terrorism chief, Vincent Cannistraro
Mr Cannistraro, an expert on Middle Eastern terrorism, said the attack bore the hallmarks of Mr bin Laden's group.

He said the sophistication of the device, placed in a metal container to concentrate the blast on the Cole's armoured hull, pointed to the involvement of a state.

"The Iraqis have wanted to carry out terrorism for some time now," he said, adding that the Iraqi military had been in contact with Mr bin Laden, and could have helped with training.

Mr bin Laden's family has Yemeni roots, and he recently distributed a video recording of himself in Yemeni tribal dress, calling for a holy war against the "forces of evil".

In his statement on Tuesday, he did not refer to the Cole attack - the deadliest on the US military since the 1996 bombing of an air force barracks in Saudi Arabia.


At a memorial service for the dead US sailors in Virginia on Wednesday, President Bill Clinton said those responsible for the attack would be brought to justice.

The US Defence Secretary, William Cohen, has vowed to take "appropriate action" once those responsible for the Cole deaths have been identified.

After the bombing of two US embassies in Africa in 1998 the US launched missile strikes against Mr bin Laden's base in Afghanistan.

In a separate development in Yemen, a member of a radical Islamic group has been arrested on suspicion of throwing a bomb into the British embassy compound.

The attack took place on Friday, the day after the bombing of the Cole. It shattered embassy windows but caused no injuries.

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See also:

13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Attractive base for anti-West Islamists
19 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Yemen
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Yemen: Arabia's 'Wild West'
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Clinton vows Yemen revenge
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Explosion hits UK Yemen embassy
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
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