A Yemeni judge sentenced two men, including one held in US custody, to death yesterday for orchestrating the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole, and sentenced four others to prison terms ranging from five to 10 years.
Jamal al-Badawi, a 35-year-old Yemeni, and Saudi-born Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were both sentenced to death for plotting, preparing and involvement in the bombing, which was blamed on Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and killed 17 US sailors as their destroyer refueled in the southern Yemeni port of Aden.
Al-Badawi, who was in the heavily guarded court to hear his sentence along with four other Yemenis charged in relation to the bombing, would appeal the sentence, his brother, Mohamed al-Badawi, told reporters.
Al-Nashiri, believed to be the mastermind of the Oct. 12, 2000 bombing, was the only one of the six men convicted who was not in court as he is being held in US custody at an undisclosed location.
The US announced al-Nashiri's arrest in 2002. He was detained in the United Arab Emirates and transferred to US custody. US officials believe he is a close associate of Saudi-born bin Laden, who is believed to have masterminded the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the US.
In addition to the Cole attack, al-Nashiri is suspected of helping direct the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The six men were all charged with belonging to al-Qaeda and playing roles in the attack on the Cole, which was carried out by suicide bombers Ibrahim al-Thawr and Abdullah al-Misawa, both Yemenis, who rammed an explosives-laden boat into the destroyer.
Judge Najib al-Qaderi sentenced Fahd al-Qasa to 10 years in jail for filming the bombing, which left a gaping hole in the side of the destroyer, which was later repaired and returned to service.
The court has heard that al-Qasa had traveled to Afghanistan in 1997 to train at an al-Qaeda terrorist camp, but it was unclear how long he spent there before returning to Yemen, a tribal-dominated country located at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
Maamoun Msouh received an eight-year prison term for delivering money used in preparing and executing the attack and playing a close role in assisting al-Badawi.
Ali Mohamed Saleh and Murad al-Sirouri were both sentenced to five years in prison for forging identification papers for al-Misawa, one of the suicide bombers.
All the men sentenced yesterday are expected to appeal their sentences within 15 days, according to al-Badawi's brother.