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Light shed on attack on USS cole


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Pentagon: USS Cole bombing chief confesses

Waleed Mohammed Bin Attash said to admit role in Guantanamo hearing

The Associated Press

Updated: 10:57 a.m. ET March 19, 2007

WASHINGTON - Waleed Mohammed Bin Attash, long suspected of plotting the bombing of the USS Cole, confessed to planning the attack during a hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a Pentagon transcript released Monday.


He also said he helped plan the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed 213, the transcript said. Seventeen sailors were killed and 37 injured when suicide bombers steered an explosives-laden boat into the guided missile destroyer on Oct. 12, 2000.


?I participated in the buying or purchasing of the explosives,? bin Attash said when asked what his role was in the attacks on the Cole and the embassies. ?I put together the plan for the operation a year and a half prior to the operation, buying the boat and recruiting the members that did the operation.?


The release of Bin Attash?s transcript came five days after the Pentagon released the record of hearings held for three other high-value suspects at Guantanamo. One of them, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, confessed to nearly three dozen plots including the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., according to the transcripts.


Link with bin Laden

Bin Attash said he met with the man who did the embassy bombings just a few hours before the operation took place.


?I was the link between Osama bin Laden and his deputy Sheikh Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri,? who authorities say worked with bin Attash on planning the Cole attack, bin Attash said.


Bin Attash also said he was with bin Laden when the Cole was attacked.


Said to be an al-Qaida operational chief, he also is known as Tawfiq bin Attash or Tawfiq Attash Khallada or simply Khallad.


U.S. intelligence documents allege that bin Attash ? a Yemeni who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia ? is a ?scion of a prominent terrorist family? that includes his father Mohammed, who was close to bin Laden and younger brother Hassan, who has been held at Guantanamo since 2004, arriving at the age of 17.


Several brothers attended al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan in the 1990s and two have been killed, one in a 2001 U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan, the U.S. says.


A federal judge in Virginia on Wednesday found the government of Sudan liable for the attack on the Cole in a lawsuit in which the sailors? relatives argued that al-Qaida could not have succeeded without the African nation providing a safe haven for bin Laden and financial support. No damage amount has yet been awarded.



? 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17688210/

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