Navy Revises Detail of Cole Attack : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Navy Revises Detail of Cole Attack Updated 3:38 PM ET October 20, 2000

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer WASHINGTON (AP) - The Navy has revised its timetable of the events leading to the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, raising new questions about how the attackers foiled Navy security.

The Navy said Friday the explosion occurred nearly two hours after the Cole was moored to a fuel dock, not during the mooring operation, as it had said before. That would mean the boat believed to have detonated the explosives did not blend in with a flotilla of harbor craft to mask the attack, as the Navy had said.

It is now less clear than before how the attacking boat could have approached the Cole without raising suspicion.

The Oct. 12 attack killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured 39. The last four bodies recovered from the Cole on Thursday were expected to be flown back to the United States on Friday from Bahrain.

In a brief statement Friday, the Navy's Office of Information at the Pentagon said it obtained additional information from the Cole's records that changed at least three points of fact in the official timeline.

-The explosion occurred at 11:18 a.m. local time (4:18 a.m. EDT), or about an hour earlier than originally reported.

-Refueling began at 10:30 a.m. and was ongoing at the time of the attack. Before, the Navy had said refueling had not yet begun.

-The Cole was completely tied up at the fueling dock in Aden harbor at 9:30 a.m., nearly two hours before the attack. The Navy previously had said the mooring operation was completed just minutes before.

This last point is of particular significance to investigators because it would seem to undercut the theory previously advanced by Navy officials that the small boat seen sidling up to the Cole at the time of the explosion used the mooring operation - involving several harbor workboats - as a means of masking its attack.

Navy officials had said the attacking boat did not raise suspicions because it appeared to be part of the mooring operation, in which small harbor boats take the ship's lines to secure it to the floating dock.

The Navy has said the Cole and its crew were at the second-highest level of alert observed in the Fifth Fleet, of which the Cole was a part at that time. Crew members would have been assigned to watch through binoculars for boats approaching the Cole, and others keeping watch would have been armed with weapons.

Cmdr. Greg Smith, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon, said the revised timeline was established this week by using more precise information from the Cole's records, information collected in response to an inquiry by the Navy Times newspaper, a nongovernment publication.

The Navy Times said an unidentified source associated with the port of Aden told it the Navy's original timeline was incorrect.

On the day of the attack, Adm. Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations, told a Pentagon news conference the explosion happened at 12:15 p.m. local time, that the Cole had just finished being tied up at the fuel dock and that the refueling had not yet begun. He also said this information was based on initial reports from the scene and that he could not be sure it was "100 percent accurate."

Pentagon and State Department officials canceled planned appearances Friday before a closed-door session of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The committee heard Thursday from retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni, who said he made the decision to refuel at Aden, largely because there was no good alternative.

The administration told the committee Friday it needed more time to prepare for the hearing, said committee chairman Sen. John Warner, R-Va.

Asked if Aden should have been used for refueling Navy ships, Warner said, "I don't think any of us has had sufficient facts to reach any conclusions."

-- Martin Thompson (, October 20, 2000


I think we pay those Pentagon rumps to much money. There must be 50000 plutocrates working in Crystal City and the Pentagon and no one can figure how that bad boy Bin Ladin did it. Better yet maybe the Pentagon should consult with the 10000 CIA scholars. Someone inside that beltway must have an idea. And on top of all of the boondoggles to have a marine general tell the Navy where to refuel. I wonder if this Pentagon rump has ever been to sea.

-- David Williams (, October 20, 2000.

USS Cole Attack Fake ID's Probed Updated 1:09 PM ET October 22, 2000 By ADNAN MALIK, Associated Press Writer ADEN, Yemen (AP) - Yemeni authorities were questioning officials from a civil registration department, trying to find out about a fake identification card issued to a suicide bomber who blew a hole in the side of a U.S. warship, Yemeni sources close to the investigation said Sunday.

One bomber was believed to have used a fake ID card indicating he was Abdullah Ahmed Khaled al-Musawah, a resident of Lahej, 22 miles north of Aden, the sources said, insisting on anonymity. Authorities believe more fake cards were issued by the civil registration office in Lahej, the sources said without elaborating.

Officials of the civil registration office suspected of involvement in issuing the fake identification cards were among more than 60 people being held for questioning by Yemeni authorities, the sources said.

All papers submitted by the applicant for the identification card that was issued in the name of al-Musawah were missing from the registration office, they said.

The sources did not say when the attackers entered Yemen or where they came from, but said the fake cards were issued July 14, 1997, when the attackers were believed to be outside the country. People interviewed about the suspected bombers said their Arabic was of a Gulf dialect.

Authorities have been searching houses and other locations believed to have been used by the attackers; two unidentified people had been staying in at least one of the houses and have not been seen since the Oct. 12 explosion, which killed 17 sailors aboard the USS Cole and injured 39 others.

Meanwhile, the sources said three more houses in suburbs near the port were believed linked to the bombings, and investigators were searching them for clues. Authorities earlier had linked the suspects to at least one other house in Aden.

A senior U.S. government official in Aden said a great deal of physical evidence had been moved from various locations under investigation. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. labs can perform some tests on the evidence that, because of technical limitations, Yemen cannot carry out.

The senior official would not say what sort of evidence had been found or whether some already had been sent to the United States.

At the site of the bombing, sailors continued repair work on the destroyer and divers collected forensic evidence from the sea bed.;h ttp://

-- Martin Thompson (, October 22, 2000.

Nando Times

Cole suspect visited harborview apartment, questioned fishermen

The Associated Press

ADEN, Yemen (October 23, 2000 5:47 p.m. EDT - A man sought in the USS Cole bombing regularly visited a tiny hilltop apartment with an excellent view of the harbor where the U.S. warship stopped to refuel, security officials said Monday. A pair of binoculars was found at the apartment.

Yemeni officials said the hilltop apartment in the Tawahi neighborhood was used as a reconnaissance base. Along with the binoculars, they said Islamic publications were found in the apartment in a two-story brown building overlooking the sea.

The lease was in the name of Abdullah Ahmed Khaled al-Musawah, said the officials, who also spoke on condition they not be named. A fake ID card in that name apparently was issued to one of the two men.

Witnesses said the bearded man was sometimes joined by other men at the hilltop apartment. They kept to themselves and kept interaction with their neighbors to curt greetings as they headed to a mosque for Friday prayers, some witnesses said.

Others, however, reported that the two suspects were quite garrulous with the fishermen and had introduced themselves as investors.

The bearded, bespectacled man and a colleague spent a lot of time with local fishermen, questioning them in detail about the comings and goings of ships in the harbor and asking how far fishing boats are allowed to go into its waters.

Those details from witnesses and investigators helped fill in gaps about the men's activities before the Oct. 12 bombing that killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured 39, but investigators appeared no closer to determining their identities.

U.S. officials believe the blast was a suicide attack. Two men were seen standing on a rubber boat seconds before the explosion. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said a 12-year-old boy told investigators a bearded man in glasses gave him change to watch his car near the port on the day of the bombing. The boy, according to Saleh, said the man went to sea in a small boat taken from the roof of his car and did not return.

Authorities believe another house was the suspects' main residence, and witnesses said cars with various Persian Gulf license plates were sometimes seen parked there.

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 23, 2000.

USS Cole Attackers Had Expertise Tuesday October 24, 2000 7:50 pm

ADEN, Yemen (AP) - Behind a cinderblock fence, two men prepared their fiberglass boat, welding metal pockets inside to carry a load of explosives.

From a hilltop apartment with a roof commanding a sweeping view of the harbor, they spied on ships that stopped to refuel, probably using a pair of binoculars investigators found at the site.

They were sometimes joined by a few other men. At two other locations, they built the bombs that would blast a hole in the USS Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring 39 others.

The picture that emerges of the men authorities believe were behind the Oct. 12 attack indicates they had resources, expertise and patience.

Brig. Gen. Abdullah Ali Eleiwah, head of the Yemeni investigative team, would only say Tuesday that the probe is ``moving forward.''

A few days before the attack, the two men told neighbors they were going to Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage and planned to return in late December after the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

They have not been seen since the blast in the Aden harbor, which U.S. officials believe was the work of suicide bombers.

The men hardly talked to their neighbors. But they spent a lot of time on the beach, grilling fishermen about the comings and goings of ships in the harbor and how far they could go in their boats.

They paid a total of at least $530 a month - a lot of money in Aden - in rent for three locations Yemeni officials believe were used for the attack. The two men introduced themselves to some as investors.

A rock-strewn footpath near the historic Rock Hotel in the Tawahi district climbs to the tiny hilltop apartment believed to have been used by the two as a reconnaissance base. Tawahi, around the western tip of Cape Aden, was an international port during 30 years of British rule of Aden that ended in 1967.

About halfway across the harbor a side street leads to a low-income area called Madinat ash-Shaab. There, a cinderblock fence hides a room the two men rented about two months before the explosion and used to weld the linings into the boat, officials said.

Nearby on Tuesday, children waiting for their school bus skipped in front of a cinderblock shack that serves as a grocery.

Further along the coastline is the Buraika neighborhood, home to senior government officials and military officers. There, the two men lived in a residential neighborhood near a huge oil refinery. The detached houses with sloping roofs and low fences were built by the British for their oil workers.

Seif Salim al Murousi, who lives nearby, said he remembered only that one tenant was bearded and he had occasionally seen them wearing traditional Yemeni dress, a brightly colored wrap similar to a sarong.

On the day of the blast, the two men left their car - described as a light-colored four-wheel drive vehicle - near a bridge over an inlet between the shack and their main residence. They are believed to have walked down a slope and into the water, where fishing boats are usually moored, before setting off on their journey.

The Cole had passed through the Suez Canal a few days before, making its way along the Red Sea toward Aden to refuel before heading to the gulf to help enforce the U.N. embargo against Iraq.,3561,5 04814,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (, October 24, 2000.

Unnamed Defense official resigned after Cole attack, says warnings were ignored

Pentagon officials tell Senate panel no such threat existed October 25, 2000 Web posted at: 1:53 p.m. EDT (1753 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Wednesday that a Department of Defense intelligence official quit his post days after the USS Cole was attacked because he believe his repeated warnings were ignored by Pentagon officials.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, raised the matter as the panel held a second round of hearings on the events leading up to the October 12 bombing of the state-of-the-art Navy destroyer as it refueled in the Gulf state of Yemen.

The actual threat warnings the intelligence official provided and his identity have not been made public. Roberts said the official provided a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Monday, and was subsequently interviewed by staff members for six hours.

Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said his panel would not release its copy of the letter.

Sen. John Warner "What he felt is that his assessment was not given that proper level of consideration by his superiors and, as such, was not incorporated in" the final intelligence reports provided to military commanders in the Gulf," Warner told reporters after the hearing.

Roberts said the official resigned from the Pentagon's Office of Counterterrorism Analysis on October 13, the day after the Cole attack. He said the official's resignation letter refers to an intelligence assessment in June that apparently predicted a terrorist attack in the Gulf.

"He indicates his analysis could have played a critical role" in the Defense Intelligence Agency's "ability to predict and warn of a potential terrorist attack against U.S. interests, and goes further to say he is very troubled by the many indicators contained in the analysis that suggests two or three other major acts of terrorism could potentially occur in the coming weeks or months," Roberts said.

The Pentagon denies the charges levied by the official, described as a "mid-level" analyst.

The Pentagon announced Tuesday that in response to specific terrorist threats against U.S. forces in the Gulf states of Bahrain and Qatar, troops based there have been put on the highest possible state of alert. The Pentagon has refused to reveal the nature of those threats.

Roberts said he wanted to know in closed-door hearings Wednesday afternoon if the official's warning played a role in the decision to place those forces on alert.

During earlier testimony, U.S. officials insisted that there were were no intelligence warnings of specific threats in advance of the Cole attack. Gen. Tommy Franks, commander in chief of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, told the committee that the decision to refuel at the Yemeni port of Aden was made on sound military judgement.

"Leading up to the attack on USS Cole on October 12, we received no specific threat information for Yemen or for the port of Aden," he said. "Had such a warning been received, action would have been taken by the operating forces in response."

Gen. Tommy Franks Franks was joined at the morning hearing by Walter Slocombe, the undersecretary of defense for policy, and Edward Walker, assistant secretary of state. The committee will hear closed-session testimony later in the day from Adm. Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations, and other defense officials. The same group testifies Wednesday afternoon to the House Armed Services Committee.

Hundreds of FBI and defense officials are in Yemen scrutinizing events that led to the attack on the Cole, trying to determine how explosives aboard a small boat that pulled alongside the ship killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured 39 others.

"The Congress has constitutional responsibilities for the safety and welfare of the men and women of the armed forces and their families wherever they are in the world," Warner said. "The oversight hearings which we are now conducting are a vital part of that process."

Last week, the committee convened hearings with former commander in chief of the central command, Gen. Anthony Zinni, the man who made the decision to enter into a ship-servicing contract with the Yemeni government.

"As Gen. Zinni testified, the decision to use Aden as a refueling port was based on solid military judgment. And I agree with that judgment," Franks told the committee.

'Why Yemen?' Franks said U.S. warships had made nearly 30 safe visits to Aden since January 1999, but he conceded the military and U.S. intelligence agencies knew Yemen had been a haven for anti-American terrorist groups.

As he did last week, Warner raised questions about why U.S. Navy vessels began refueling in Aden in 1999, despite travel warnings from the State Department. "Why Yemen, when there are continued State Department travel warnings in effect for that country?" he asked.

"Put yourself in the position of a member of the family of the Cole or citizens across this country who are absolutely shocked and appalled at this incident, where one branch of government says to travelers 'don't go' and the other branch of the government, the Department of Defense, actually says 'go,'" he said.

Walker said that the ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, advised Central Command in March 2000 not to authorize port calls in Aden, citing "general tension in the region and the feeling that there was a requirement or a need for a new review of the security situation in general in Yemen."

But Walker said that were no such warnings against refueling stops, which usually last a few hours and don't require sailors to leave the ship.

Franks: Navy reviewed port Franks told the Senate committee that 19 of the 25 nations in Central Command's jurisdiction are considered "high-level" threats, includinng Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Of the 186 port stops conducted in the region this year, he speculated that "less than 10" took place in low-threat nations.

Although published reports have said the United States received vague intelligence reports about a possible attack against a U.S. warship ahead of the Cole bombing, Pentagon officials emphasized they were not specific enough to issue a warning to American forces.

"Information of that kind -- had it existed, which it didn't -- would have been disseminated on a most urgent basis to all those affected by it," Slocombe told the committee.

Franks said that the Navy had conducted its own review of the security situation in Yemen before allowing the Cole to proceed to Aden for its refueling stop.

Sen. Bob Smith "The process that is gone through is a force protection board that our naval commander sets every week and reviews every port call. And this one was no exception, both the last week of September and the first week of October."

However, Sen. Bob Smith, R-New Hampshire, questioned the necessity of Aden as a fueling stop and asked the panel how much fuel the Cole had in reserve when in entered the harbor on October 16.

Franks said that the Cole had "topped off" its tanks before entering the Suez Canal earlier in the month, and put into Aden "at between 50 and 55 percent fuel." The Navy prefers combat-ready ships to stay above 50 percent levels, he added.

Franks testified as the United States continued an intensive investigation of the attack, which has thus far not pinpointed any groups responsible. Among those being investigated, according to U.S. officials, is Saudi Arabian exile Osama bin Laden.

"We will find the facts we need to find, and we'll use the lessons that we learn from Cole to provide the best possible force protection for our troops in one of the most dangerous regions of the world," said Franks.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report, which was written by writer Mike Ferullo tml

-- Martin Thompson (, October 25, 2000.

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