WISCREPORT.COM (10/29/07) – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) is troubled by media reports that the suspected mastermind behind the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, was released from custody in Yemen.
Feingold says, "If the reports are accurate, the administration needs to explain whether it was aware and approved of the release of al-Badawi, and the President should explain what he will do to ensure that this terrorist is brought to justice."
“I am deeply troubled by reports of the release of Jamal al-Badawi, who is believed to be the mastermind behind the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, in which 17 Americans were killed," Senator Feingold says.
"The Yemeni government’s reported decision to release him – after two jail escapes - is completely unacceptable," Feingold said.
"I also hope candidates for President will commit to refocusing our national security where it belongs, on combating al-Badawi and others in al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups,” Feingold suggested.
This is not the first time Senator Feingold has expressed deep concern about al-Badawi, the Yemeni prison, and what the Bush administration might or might not be doing to protect the interests of the United States in this matter.
In February 2006, Feingold, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Foreign Relations Committee, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after al-Badawi escaped a Yemeni prison along with 22 other convicts. In that letter, Feingold requested information about the administration’s knowledge of the incident.
"This alarming event causes me grave concern about Yemen’s capability to serve as an effective partner in the war on terror, but it is even more troubling that the U.S. government relied on Yemen to effectively detain and bring to justice these known al-Qaida members," Feingold wrote to Secretary Rice.
"Al-Badawi’s success in twice escaping Yemeni custody event not only calls into question our security and counter-terrorism relationship with Yemen, but it also raises the question of whether or not we have in place the right partnerships and relationships to ensure that known al-Qaida operatives are successfully detained and prosecuted," Senator Feingold continued in the letter to Rice.
"It seems clear that the Administration’s analysis of Yemen’s capability or determination to bring these individuals to justice was, once again, wrong," Feingold stated in the letter.
"As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I am deeply disturbed by this failure and am convinced that neither I nor my colleagues can adequately oversee and support the fight against international terrorism without more complete information about this escape," Feingold wrote.
"I request that the Department provide information, in the form of a classified briefing, detailing what is known thus far about all of the suspects, the circumstances surrounding their detention and escape, current Yemeni and international efforts to find and detain them, and their possible current whereabouts and activities," wrote Feingold in the letter to Secretary Rice.
"In addition, I request information about the extent to which the U.S. monitored these detainees prior to their escape, about what actions were taken to prevent a repeat of the escape in 2003, and about the assurances, commitments, and cooperation that the U.S. had received from the Yemeni government with respect to prosecuting those responsible for the attack," Senator Feingold went on in the letter.
"Given the importance of this issue for the fight against global terrorism and for the U.S.-Yemeni relationship, I request that this information be provided as soon as possible," Feingold concluded.