Sanaa, Asharq Al-Awsat – Yemeni sources have confirmed yesterday that Al Qaeda leader Jamal al Badawi has surrendered to the local authorities.
Al Badawi is infamously known as the mastermind behind Al Qaeda’s Great Escape operation in which 23 of the convicted organization leaders escaped from a high security prison in Sanaa in February 2006.
The Al Qaeda fugitive had been charged as one of the main plotters behind the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000. The Navy destroyer Cole was attacked whilst refueling in Aden, killing 17 American sailors and wounding over 40.
Al Badawi had previously escaped prison in April 2003 with Fahd al Quso but both were recaptured in March 2004. Under a death sentence at the time, al Badawi’s sentence had been commuted to a 15-year prison term upon recapture.
In May 2003, a federal grand jury in Manhattan, New York, indicted al Badawi and al Quso on over 50 terror-related offenses for plotting the attack on the Cole.
Starting 2006, the US government has been offering a reward of US $5 million for information leading to the Al Qaeda operative’s capture.
According to sources, witnesses in Aden claim to have sighted al Badawi in his home earlier this week, with the knowledge of the authorities, as have some of his neighbors.
A source close to the Yemeni security services has told AFP that al Badawi’s surrender came following negotiations between Yemeni authorities and al Qaeda militants.
Jamal al Badawi is among approximately 36 Yemeni nationals currently on trial for being accomplices or for executing attacks for Al Qaeda.