A suspected al Qaeda terrorist wanted in connection with the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole blew himself up with a grenade late Wednesday as Yemeni security forces closed in on him in Yemen's capital city, security sources said.
Authorities had gone to a suspected al Qaeda hideout, a house in a poor section of Sana'a's downtown, and a firefight ensued. The suspect jumped into a taxi, and as authorities tried to stop the vehicle, the man pulled out a grenade and was apparently trying to throw it when it exploded in his hand, sources said.
A police statement identified the suspect as Sameer Mohammed al-Hada, a 25-year-old Yemen native. He was one of the most important people on a list of wanted al Qaeda suspects that the United States had given to Yemeni officials, sources said.
Al-Hada was wanted in connection with the bombing of the Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors and wounded 39. Yemeni security sources said al-Hada had trained in Afghanistan.
Security sources said al-Hada's family extensive ties to terrorism. One of al-Hada's sisters was married to one of the suspected September 11 hijackers who piloted an American Airlines jet into the Pentagon. His other sister, they said, is married to Mustafa Abdulkader Aabed al-Ansari, a Yemen native whose name showed up on an FBI terrorist alert late Monday.
In that alert, the FBI warned law enforcement agencies and the public to be on the lookout for 18 suspected al Qaeda operatives, most from Yemen, who are planning an attack against U.S. interests. Al-Hada's name was not on the terror alert.
In addition, one U.S. official said, al-Hada "was also the son of a man believed to be prominent in Al Qaeda."
Yemen cracks down on al Qaeda
The relationship between the United States and Yemen occasionally became strained in the months following the Cole bombing, with cultural differences hindering cooperation between the two countries.
That changed following the September 11 attacks on New...
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