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Sudan settles with victims’ families of USS Cole terror attack that killed 17, injured 39

The MV Blue Marlin transporting the USS Cole, October 31, 2000. (U.S. Navy/Released)
February 14, 2020

The interim Sudanese government said on Thursday it has settled with the victims and the families of the terrorist attacks on the USS Cole in 2000 for an undisclosed amount of money.

The attack on the USS Cole in Yemen killed 17 and injured 39 sailors on October 12, 2000. The Sudanese government claims that it was not responsible for the actions of the old regime, the Associated Press reported.

“We expect the United States and the world to understand and to be supportive instead of imposing more obstacles,” said Faisal Saleh, Sudan’s information minister and interim government spokesman, adding that the new government “inherited an empty treasury.”

The previous regime was under the control of Omar al-Bashir, who supported al-Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the attack. The settlement is the first step the interim Sudanese government is making in order to be removed from the United States’ list of state-sponsors of terrorism.

Sudanese officials would not disclose the settlement amount because they are currently in negotiations to settle with victims of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed more than 200 people left 1,000 wounded. They did say the Americans can release the settlement amount, however.

The settlement could be as high as $315 million, since a federal judge issued a judgment of that amount in 2012, but the Supreme Court overturned that decision on the grounds that Sudan wasn’t properly notified of the lawsuit.

Sudanese Justice Minister Nasr-Eddin Abdul-Bari traveled to Washington last week to sign the deal, which included compensations for both those wounded and the families of those killed in the attack, according to Saleh.

The attack on the USS Cole was the last major act of terror the group conducted before Sept. 11, 2001 and was conducted by two men in a boat, who detonated explosives alongside the U.S. destroyer when it was refueling in Aden.

The United States killed one of the terrorists involved in the attack in January 2019.

Al-Qaeda terrorist Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi was killed in a U.S.-led airstrike on Yemen on January 2, 2019.

Sudan’s economic isolation would end if the United States removed it from its terror list, as well as attract much-need loans from international financial institutions in order to rebuild the economy, which was destroyed after the al-Bashir regime was toppled by the joint civilian-military sovereign council.

Al-Bashir is facing several charges for his alleged role in leading the deadly onslaught on civilians in response to a rebel insurgency in Darfur, including three counts of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes.

In order to be removed from the terror list, Saleh told the AP, the United States set new security apparatus conditions.

“The Americans believe the Sudan’s support for terror was carried out through its security apparatus,” Saleh said. “So they want to be assured that there has been a radical change [in the way it operates.]”