FILE - The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) is towed away from the port city of Aden, Yemen, into open sea by the Military Sealift Command ocean-going tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168), Oct. 29, 2000.
FILE - The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) is towed away from the port city of Aden, Yemen, into open sea by the Military Sealift Command ocean-going tug USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168), Oct. 29, 2000.

PENTAGON - A U.S. airstrike in Yemen has targeted one of the alleged masterminds of the USS Cole bombing, which killed 17 sailors in 2000. 

Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said Friday that a precision airstrike in Yemen's Marib governorate on Tuesday targeted Jamal al-Badawi, one of six al-Qaida operatives convicted of the bombing and a fugitive on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list. 

"U.S. forces are still assessing the results of the strike following a deliberate process to confirm his death," Urban said. 

A defense official told VOA that the U.S. was waiting for the results of a DNA test before formally declaring al-Badawi deceased. 

In October 2000, 17 American sailors from the Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, died in a suicide bomb attack at Aden harbor. Dozens more sailors were wounded. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility. 

Al-Badawi was arrested by Yemeni authorities in 2000, escaped from a prison in 2003, was recaptured by Yemeni authorities in 2004 and escaped again in 2006.

Al-Badawi was charged with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including murder of U.S. nationals and murder of U.S. military personnel. In addition to his role in the bombing, he has been charged with attempting to attack a U.S. Navy vessel in January 2000.

Meanwhile, a U.S. military strike in al-Dayman, Yemen, on Friday targeted operatives for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), according to an official. 

There were 36 military airstrikes in Yemen in 2018, mostly targeting AQAP with a couple targeting IS forces in Yemen.