The al-Badawi release has created a fire storm here in the US, for those of you in Yemen. There’s a media frenzy about Yemen like nothing I’ve ever seen before. They are shocked, I think. And angry. And confused. But the US media hasn’t been paying attention to Yemen at all, because the release is predictable. And none of them are asking the next logical question.
The White House finally comments:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House sharply criticized Yemen on Friday for releasing one of the al-Qaida masterminds of the USS Cole bombing in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors.
Jamal al-Badawi, who is wanted by the FBI, was convicted in 2004 of plotting, preparing and helping carry out the USS Cole bombing and received a death sentence that was commuted to 15 years in prison.
He and 22 others, mostly al-Qaida fighters, escaped from prison in 2004. But al-Badawi was granted his freedom after turning himself in 15 days ago and pledging loyalty to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a senior security official in Yemen disclosed on Thursday.
“The United States is dismayed and deeply disappointed in the government of Yemen’s decision not to imprison Badawi,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
“This action is inconsistent with a deepening of our bilateral counterterrorism cooperation. We have communicated our displeasure to Yemeni officials and will work with the Yemeni government to ensure Al Badawi is held accountable for his past terrorist actions,” he said.
Former mayor of New York at the time of the WTC attack, Rudy Guiliani called for Yemen to re-arrest al-Badawi. Probably all the Republicans are going to outdo each other in condemnation. Democratic leaders Pelosi and Reid on the other hand, probably think he needs counseling.
Washington, D.C. (AHN) – Amid the campaign trail, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has called on Yemen to rearrest Jamal al-Badawi, who is believed to be linked to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
“Yesterday, the government of Yemen set free Jamal al-Badawi,” Giuliani said. “This is unacceptable. Yemen must turn over al-Badawi to the U.S. for trial in the Southern District of New York, where he already is under indictment for the USS Cole attack.”
“Until al-Badawi is re-arrested, America should use all the means at its disposal to pressure Yemen to stop siding with terrorists. As a first step, I urge the U.S. Government to cancel the more than $20 million in aid scheduled to be delivered to Yemen. Terrorists must be held accountable for their actions and so must the governments that offer them safe harbor,” Giuliani said.
In April 2003, al-Bedawi escaped from a Yemeni prison, only to be recaptured in March 2004. Then, in February 2006, al-Bedawi was believed to be among another group of prison escapees. On October 17, 2007, al-Badawi surrendered to Yemeni authorities as part of an agreement with al-Qaida militants in the region.
Nonetheless, after signing a pledge not to continue his terror activities, the Yemeni government voluntarily released al-Bedawi.
Update: US Justice Dept and former commander Lippold weigh in, via CNN:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — U.S. law enforcement officials Friday blasted Yemen’s release of one of the leaders of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. soldiers.
“We are dismayed and deeply disappointed in the government of Yemen’s decision not to imprison [Jamal al-Badawi],” said a Justice Department statement issued by the Department’s National Security Division.
“We have communicated our displeasure to Yemeni officials,” the statement said.
The statement pointedly referred to al-Badawi as one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists and noted prosecutors in New York City want to get their hands on him.
“He was convicted in Yemeni courts and has been indicted in the Southern District of New York,” the Justice Department said. Officials said the decision is not consistent with cooperation between counterterrorism officials of the United States and Yemen.
Al-Badawi — who had escaped prison last year — was freed after turning himself in two weeks ago, renouncing terrorism and pledging allegiance to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, according to news reports.
Witnesses said al-Badawi was “receiving well-wishers at his home” in Aden, Yemen, according to The Associated Press in Sana, Yemen.
Former New York City Mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani promptly called for the U.S. government to cancel $20 million in aid to Yemen for releasing al-Badawi.
The retired former commander of the Cole called the release “disappointing.”
“In the war on terrorism, actions speak stronger than words, and this act by the Yemeni government is a clear demonstration that they are neither a reliable nor trustworthy partner in the war on terrorism,” said Cmdr. Kirk Lippold.
U.S. law enforcement officials close to the case privately expressed outrage over the release of al-Badawi.
“He’s got American blood on his hands. He confessed to what he did … and they let him go,” said one official who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
“This will not be the last we hear of him,” another federal official under the same restriction told CNN’s Kelli Arena.
The Justice Department said U.S. officials will try to work with the Yemeni government “to ensure al-Badawi is held accountable for his past actions.”
Suicide bombers on a boat attacked the guided missile destroyer USS Cole on October 12, 2000, in the harbor at Aden. Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed and 39 injured.
Al-Badawi, convicted in 2004 and sentenced to death, previously escaped from prison in 2003, before his trial, and was recaptured in 2004. In 2006, he escaped again with 22 others, and had been at large since then.
“This will not be the last we hear of him,” is spot on. The lack of justice is one issue, the ongoing threat is another. Lippold also nails it.