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Victims of CIA Strike May Include American

November 08, 2002|From Associated Press

SANA, Yemen — An American was believed to be among the six militants killed in a CIA missile strike last weekend, a security source said Thursday.

The men, including Qaed Sinan Harithi, Al Qaeda's top man in Yemen, were killed Sunday when a Hellfire missile fired from a pilotless CIA spy plane destroyed the car they were in.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the other five were known by their aliases -- Saleh abu Hamam; Qiagaa; Abu Jirah; Mounir; and Jalal, also known as Ahmed Hijazi. Jalal is believed to have been a U.S. citizen, according to the source, who provided no other details and did not say how authorities established that Jalal was American.

Authorities were trying to establish the men's identities, the source said.

He said Harithi, who was in his mid-40s, first met Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the 1980s during the war against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. The two men stayed in contact after the war and met again in Sudan, where Bin Laden had gone in the 1990s, the source said.

Harithi was believed to have coordinated the October 2000 attack near the Yemeni port of Aden on the U.S. destroyer Cole, in which 17 U.S. sailors died.

A Yemeni newspaper, September 26, reported that Harithi plotted last month's attack on the French tanker Limburg off Yemen, in which a Bulgarian crew member died. The newspaper did not cite sources.

The newspaper, whose editor in chief is President Ali Abdullah Saleh's press secretary, also reported that Harithi was responsible for several terrorist attacks in Yemen and was planning more attacks on Western targets in the country.

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