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Remember the Cole: Seven years

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By Michelle Malkin  •  October 12, 2007 08:49 PM

Watch (hat tip – CommentGuy):

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Today marks the seventh anniversary of the USS Cole bombing. As Deebow at Blackfive noted, “It truly is a shame that the Old Media dinosaurs keep a daily running tab of US Service members KIA in Iraq, but give this zero coverage. Glad to know that they are on our side. Just so everyone knows, these are the names of the U.S. personnel killed aboard the USS Cole:”

1. Electronics Technician 1st Class Richard Costelow
2. Mess Management Specialist Lakina Francis
3. Information Systems Technician Tim Guana
4. Signalman Seaman Recruit Cherone Gunn
5. Seaman James McDaniels
6. Engineman 2nd Class Mark Nieto
7. Electronics Warfare Technician 3rd Class Ronald Owens
8. Seaman Recruit Lakiba Parker
9. Engineman Fireman Joshua Parlett
10. Fireman Apprentice Patrick Roy
11. Electronics Warfare Technician Kevin Rux
12. Petty Officer 3rd Class Ron Santiago
13. Operations Special 2nd Class Timothy Sanders
14. Fireman Gary Swenchonis Jr
15. Ensign Andrew Triplett
16. Seaman Apprentice Craig Wibberly
17. Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class Kenneth Clodfelter.

Here’s my October 2001 column on Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, who died in the Cole bombing, and his surviving wife and sons. The Costelow family memorial page is here.

Several escaped jihadi operatives implicated in the Cole bombing plot remain at large.

In mid-September, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued a stern warning to the Wa’ilah tribe in northern Yemen: turn over the six al-Qaeda suspects you are sheltering or face serious repercussions (al-Wasat, September 12). The six men that Saleh believes have found refuge with the tribe near the Saudi border are the remnants of a group of 23 prisoners that escaped from a Yemeni political security prison on February 3, 2006. The prisoners escaped by tunneling out of their cell and into a neighboring mosque, which has since been detailed in a lengthy narrative written by one of the escapees and published by the Yemeni paper al-Ghad. The escapees included a number of prominent al-Qaeda militants, among whom were individuals convicted of carrying out attacks on the USS Cole in 2000 and on the French oil tanker Limburg in 2002.

Six of these suspects have since been killed in clashes with Yemeni or U.S. forces, 11 have either turned themselves back in to authorities or have been recaptured and six of the suspects remain at large. Many of these individuals have continued to fight for al-Qaeda since their escape, and one of them, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, has since been named the new head of Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Despite differences of age and background, the 23 men who were being held in the cell were linked together through shared experiences. Nearly half of the escapees, 11, were born in Saudi Arabia to Yemeni parents. Several of the men were arrested in late 2002 after a series of bombings in Sanaa and Marib. Seven of these men were part of a 15-man cell that was later charged with planning to attack five foreign embassies as well as to assassinate the then U.S. Ambassador Edmund Hull. Three of the men were convicted of being part of an 11-man cell that was charged with plotting to carry out attacks in Yemen and abroad. Among the escapees, there are also two sets of brothers, Hizam and Arif Mujali and Mansur and Zakariya al-Bayhani, who are themselves brothers of Ghalib and Tawfiq al-Bayhani, who are currently in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay. Two other escapees, Qasim al-Raymi and Fawaz al-Rabay’I, also have brothers in Guantanamo.

The Radio Patriot provides a history of the USS Cole.

Jane at the Jawa Report has a thorough review of the bombing, investigation, and the jihadi helpers in Yemen. She concludes:

The bombing of the USS Cole was one incident in a pattern of escalating al-Qaeda attacks on the US that began with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and culminated in 2001 with the deaths of nearly 3000 US citizens. In the wake of 9/11, structural procedures and adjustments have been instituted to break down the wall between US intelligence agencies. However, the tension caused by maintaining the semi-cooperation of “allies” in counter-terror efforts remains a vital issue, and no better example exists than US-Yemeni relations. In 2007, international cooperation is essential in uncovering terrorists’ plans, networks and operatives. However, many find the US focus on counter-terror both myopic and counter-productive in dealing with its allies. This view is widely held by Yemeni reformers who pay the price for their advocacy in blood. The US is perceived as tacitly approving of civil and human rights abuses as long as the regime is forth coming with counter-terror cooperation. Yemen’s progressives have a message that undermines the dictatorship, regressive forces and the terrorists. Consequently, reformists are targeted by the regime and labeled un-Islamic and Western stooges in the public media.

Yemen uses and exports Islamic fanatics as a tool of domestic and foreign policy. After the empowerment of Hamas in a democratic election, the idealistic US push for democratization and reform in the Middle East was met by the real-politik fears of radical Islamists gaining political power. In Yemen, radical Islamists already have political power and government jobs, as evidenced by the state’s failure to thwart terrorist financing, media incitement, mosque incitement, material support and moral support for terrorism. With or without official political status, elections or recognition, Yemeni Islamist militants are capable of influencing the regime and deploying state resources. And these political players are more dangerous when they are playing the game underground, while an enormous game of charades takes place in the media.

The days of “with us or against us” are certainly over as the intertwined structure between dictatorships and terrorists becomes clearer. To undermine one is to undermine the other, to support one supports the other. The natural alliance between indigenous reformists and the United States is dysfunctional in the current climate, leaving both more vulnerable. However, there are many in the Yemeni administration and some in the opposition who are quite patriotic and in favor of reform and modernization. Somehow the US must become as good at playing both sides of the fence as the Yemeni regime is.

Richard Newcomb weighs in on media apathy.

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Previous:

Remember the Cole: Six years
Remember the Cole 2005
2005 – Nothing to see here, move along
2001 – A forgotten day of infamy
The al Qaeda jailbreak

The Navy’s USS Cole Memorial is here.

Posted in: Al Qaeda,Jihadists