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USS Cole Bombing Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here is some background information about the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen on October 12, 2000.


In October 2000, the USS Cole was attacked by suicide bombers, while in port in Aden, Yemen, for refueling. The attack was attributed to al Qaeda and foreshadowed the attack on the United States less than one year later on September 11, 2001.

The explosion ripped a hole in the hull of the ship, killing 17 US sailors. Thirty-nine others were injured.


October 12, 2000 – During a refueling stop in the harbor of Aden, the USS Cole is attacked by suicide bombers in a small boat laden with explosives.

October 13, 2000 – The FBI arrives in Yemen to investigate the bombing.

October 16, 2000 – The Yemeni government acknowledges the USS Cole has been the target of a terrorist attack. Initially, it considered the explosion to have been an “accident,” set off by a detonation on board the ship.

October 30, 2000 – The USS Cole begins its return to the United States, leaving the port of Aden. It is brought back to the United States by a Norwegian transport ship.

December 2000 – Yemeni officials arrest suspects Fahd al-Quso and Jamal al-Badawi. Additionally, US and Yemeni officials identify Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri as a key figure in the bombing.

January 9, 2001 – The Department of Defense issues a report on the USS Cole attack which does not assign blame but finds significant shortcomings in security against terrorist attacks.

January 19, 2001 – The results of a US Navy investigation are released, concluding that the incident could not have been prevented.

March 1, 2001 – Al-Jazeera broadcasts Osama bin Laden reading a poem mentioning the attack. ”In Aden, the young man stood up for holy war and destroyed a destroyer feared by the powerful.”

June 2001 – A video circulates showing followers of bin Laden training in Afghanistan, singing, “We thank God for granting us victory the day we destroyed Cole in the sea.”

October 12, 2001 – The USS Cole Memorial dedication ceremony takes place at Norfolk Naval Station.

November 2002 – US officials announce Nashiri, an alleged planner of the attack, has been captured and is being interrogated at a secret location.

April 2003 – Pakistani officials announce they have arrested suspected USS Cole attack planner Walid bin Attash, also known as Khallad (or Khalid) bin Attash.

May 15, 2003 – The Justice Department announces indictments against Badawi and Quso for their roles in the USS Cole attack. Three unindicted co-conspirators are also named: bin Attash, Nashiri and bin Laden.

November 29, 2003 – The USS Cole departs on its first overseas deployment since the bombing. The hallway floor on the ship now features 17 stars, one for each of the sailors killed.

July 2004 – Yemen charges six men in the Cole bombing. Five accused in court are Badawi, Maamoun Msouh, Quso, Ali Mohamed Saleh and Murad al-Sirouri. Nashiri will be tried in absentia as he is in US custody. Also, the judge names two of the suicide bombers for the first time, Ibrahim al-Thawr and Abdullah al-Misawa.

July 16, 2004 – Family members of the sailors killed file a lawsuit against Sudan for more than $100 million, alleging the Sudanese government provided support that allowed al Qaeda to attack the USS Cole.

September 29, 2004 – A judge in Yemen sentences Badawi and Nashiri to death for organizing the attack on the USS Cole. Quso is given a 10-year jail sentence, Msouh, eight years, and both Saleh and Sirouri are given five year sentences. Yemeni authorities say all six defendants belong to the al Qaeda network.

February 26, 2005 – A Yemeni appeals court reduces Badawi’s death sentence to 15 years in jail but upholds the death sentence against Nashiri. The court also reduces Msouh’s sentence from eight to five years.

February 3, 2006 – Interpol announces Badawi’s escape from jail.

September 2006 – Nashiri, who has been held at various undisclosed locations by the CIA, is transferred to Guantánamo Bay prison.

March 19, 2007 – Hearing transcripts are released by the Defense Department in which bin Attash confesses to his role in the attack.

March 2007 – Pentagon transcripts of a military tribunal are released in which Nashiri claims he made a false confession because he was tortured. The CIA has previously admitted Nashiri was among terrorist suspects subjected to waterboarding while being interrogated.

March 14, 2007 – Ruling at the end of a two day civil bench trial, US District Judge Robert Doumar finds Sudan liable for the USS Cole attack.

July 25, 2007 – Judge Doumar orders the Sudanese government to pay close to $8 million to the families of the sailors killed.

June 30, 2008 – US military prosecutors charge Guantánamo detainee Nashiri with murder for allegedly planning the attack on the USS Cole. Nashiri is the first alleged Cole plotter charged by the US, and has been in US custody since 2002.

December 19, 2008 – The Defense Department formally approves war crimes charges against Nashiri. Nashiri has been imprisoned at Guantánamo since 2006.

February 5, 2009 – Susan J. Crawford, the top legal authority for trials at Guantánamo, drops all charges against Nashiri to uphold US President Barack Obama’s executive order freezing pending cases. The suspect remains in prison and may face new charges.

February 6, 2009 – Obama meets relatives of victims of the Cole bombing and September 11th attacks to explain his rationale for ordering the Guantánamo detention center to be closed and delay the military trials of terrorist suspects being held there.

2010 – Fifteen injured sailors and three surviving spouses file a federal lawsuit claiming the Sudanese government provided material support to the terrorists responsible for the attack. According to the plaintiffs, the Republic of Sudan provided funding, training and additional support to al Qaeda. They are seeking assets in Sudanese banks to compensate for the injuries and deaths.

April 20, 2011 – The Defense Department announces new charges against Nashiri: planning the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, the attempted attack on the USS The Sullivans in 2000 and the attack on the French oil tanker MV Limburg in 2002. He faces the death penalty.

November 9, 2011 – Nashiri’s trial begins at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

March 30, 2012 – The US District Court issues a final judgment awarding $314,705,896 in compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiffs who filed suit again the Sudanese government for their role in assisting the terrorists in the execution of the USS Cole bombing.

January 2014 – The Republic of Sudan appeals the decision made by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals claiming it was not properly alerted to the plaintiff’s claims, and the proper procedures were not followed.

April 29, 2014 – A US court concludes that Sudan had provided al Qaeda with aid that led to the attack, awarding the families $35 million in compensation.

September 23, 2015 – The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals denies the Sudanese government’s appeal and orders Sudanese bank assets to be turned over.

November 1, 2017 – The military judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath, finds the chief defense counsel, Marine Brigadier General John Baker, guilty of contempt for disobeying orders after he excused the three defense attorneys who quit in October. Baker is sentenced to 21 days confinement and is fined.

June 18, 2018 – Baker’s conviction is overturned in federal court.

January 1, 2019 – Badawi is killed during an airstrike in Yemen, according to a statement from US Central Command.

March 26, 2019 – The US Supreme Court rules 8-1 against victims and families of the USS Cole attack in their lawsuit against Sudan, saying that the victims did not properly serve notice of their lawsuit to the government of Sudan.

February 12, 2020 – Sudanese officials announce Sudan will pay a $30 million settlement to the families of 17 US Navy sailors killed in the 2000 bombing in a bid to get itself removed from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan’s government “explicitly denies” its involvement in the attack and says the payout is intended to “settle the historical allegations of terrorism left by the former regime.

March 31, 2021 – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement that the United States has received the $335 million settlement from Sudan that will be paid out to victims and families of individuals impacted by the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, the 1998 bombings at the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the murder of a USAID employee in Khartoum. A State Department spokesperson says the $335 million from Sudan is “in addition to $72.5 million in an already paid private settlement with a number of USS COLE victims.”

August 1, 2022 – US President Joe Biden announces that the United States killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike. Zawahiri was a mastermind behind several terror attacks against the US, including the attacks on the USS Cole and on September 11, 2001.


Hull Maintenance Technician Second Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21

Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35

Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19

Information Systems Technician Timothy Lee Gauna, 21

Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22

Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19

Engineman Second Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24

Electronics Warfare Technician Second Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24

Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22

Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19

Fireman Patrick Howard Roy, 19

Electronics Warfare Technician First Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30

Mess Management Specialist Third Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22

Operations Specialist Second Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32

Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26

Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31

Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19

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