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Yemen Arrests Key Suspect in Attack on US Warship <i>Cole</i> - 2003-11-25

The government of Yemen says it has arrested a key suspect in the terrorist attack on an American warship three years ago that killed 17 Americans. The FBI is in the process of verifying the identity of a man described by Yemen as a top leader of al-Qaida.

The Yemeni government has announced Saudi-born Mohammed al-Ahdal was arrested Tuesday after security forces surrounded his hideout in the capital, Sanaa.

For three years, Yemeni as well as U.S. authorities have sought his arrest in connection with the October, 2000 terrorist bombing of the USS Cole. Seventeen American sailors were killed when a bomb blew a hole in the side of the Navy destroyer as it was docked for refueling in Aden harbor. The suspect is also wanted in connection with an explosion aboard a French oil tanker off the Yemeni coast last year that left one person dead.

Yemen's interior ministry describes Mohammed al-Ahdal as a senior leader of al-Qaida in the country. A U.S. official who asked not to be identified says the U.S. government is aware of his arrest but would not comment on details including when the suspect might be extradited to the United States to stand trial.