WASHINGTON – An American military spokesman says a U.S. airstrike in Yemen targeted an al-Qaida operative accused of involvement in the attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors.

The spokesman, Navy Capt. William Urban at U.S. Central Command headquarters, said Friday that the Jan. 1 airstrike targeted Jamal al-Badawi.

Urban said U.S. forces are attempting to confirm his death.

Al-Badawi is wanted in the United States for his role in the Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2003, charged with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including murder of U.S. nationals and murder of U.S. military personnel.

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