- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

The United States on Sunday killed a senior al Qaeda terrorist who helped carry out the Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the destroyer USS Cole, a U.S. official said yesterday.
The official said the missile attack on a car in northern Yemen killed Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi and five lower-level members of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization.
The official said a CIA-operated Predator drone launched a Hellfire missile, which struck the terrorist's car. The official said it was one of the best "kills or captures" in Washington's war on terrorism since bin Laden confidant Abu Zubaydah was collared in Pakistan during the summer.
A CIA spokesman declined to comment.
The CIA has operated the remotely piloted drone with great success in the war on terrorism. The Predator played a role in killing top al Qaeda operative Muhammad Atef during the war in Afghanistan last year. In February, a CIA-guided Hellfire killed what many Pentagon analysts believed was a senior al Qaeda member in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.
CIA officers and military personnel typically guide the Predator from a control room at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.
Officials usually consult with each other on the target's identity, and military lawyers sometimes view the individual through the Predator's satellite optics linkup before the Hellfire missile is steered to the target. The drone can be controlled from any number of U.S. bases.
It was on Yemeni soil where al-Harethi and other al Qaeda operations planned the bombing of the Cole in Yemen's Aden harbor. A small boat driven by two suicide terrorists struck the destroyer's hull, igniting an explosion that killed 17 sailors.
Yemen, bin Laden's ancestral home, has become one of the hottest spots in the war on terrorism. The United States has sent Green Berets and CIA officers into the country to train the local military. The aim is to help forces find and eliminate pockets of al Qaeda in Yemen's tribal areas outside the major cities.
"It's been a good cooperation," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a Pentagon press conference yesterday. "We've shared some information. And we think that over time it ought to be beneficial because there's no question but that there are al Qaeda in Yemen. We have some folks in that country that have been working with the government and helping them think through ways of doing things."
He declined to discuss any U.S. role in Sunday's killing. On reports that al-Harethi was killed, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "It would be a very good thing if he were out of business."
The United States is expanding its presence in the region by setting up a military task force of more than 1,000 troops in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti, near Yemen on the Gulf of Aden. From there, the military could send missions into nearby countries, such as Yemen and Somalia, if terrorist targets surface.
"In the Horn of Africa, there are a number of areas that you can call ungoverned or at least not under some government's tight control, where terrorists can gather and either do operational planning or training," said Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. "So, we're very interested in the area for that reason and positioned forces there to take appropriate action."
In recent years, especially since September 11, the Yemeni government has sought closer ties with the United States.
Local forces are hunting down al Qaeda cells in the northern province of Marib, the site of Sunday's attack. Reuters quoted local Yemeni authorities as confirming that al-Harethi, also known as Abu Ali, was killed. Some locals reported seeing an aircraft in the sky.
The Associated Press quoted a Yemeni official as saying, "Authorities have been monitoring this particular car for a while and we believe those men belonged to the al Qaeda terror network."
U.S. officials say one other Cole bombing suspect, Hamdi al-Ahdal, also is thought to be in Yemen.
Al Qaeda continues to plan attacks in Yemen. It is believed responsible for the Oct. 6 boat-bomb attack on the French oil tanker Limburg. The explosion tore a hole in the hull, killing one sailor and emptying 90,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Aden.
Hundreds of al Qaeda terrorists fled Afghanistan when the United States started bombing that country on Oct. 7, 2001, to topple Taliban rule. Some have found their way to Yemen. Some stragglers have ended up in Somalia, U.S. officials say, but no evidence proves al Qaeda has resurrected training camps there.

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