A terrorist the U.S. believes helped orchestrate the deadly October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole was reportedly killed in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen Tuesday, a U.S. administration official said.

Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi, a longtime al-Qaida operative who was on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists, was driving alone in a vehicle at the time of the strike, the official said.

Officials told CNN that the airstrike occurred in Yemen’s Ma’rib Governorate, and came as the result of a combined effort by U.S. military and intelligence agencies.

The guided-missile destroyer Cole docked in Aden, Yemen, on Oct. 12, 2000, for a standard refueling stop when a small fiberglass boat laden with explosives maneuvered toward the port side of the destroyer.

The ensuing explosion ripped a 40-by-60-foot gash into the ship’s side, killing 17 and wounding 39 more.

Reports estimated that between 400 and 700 pounds of explosives were used.

Yemeni authorities took Al-Badawi into custody in December 2000 for his part in the attack, but he escaped from prison in April 2003.

He was again apprehended about one year later, but escaped once more in 2006 when he and other inmates tunneled out of the prison and into an adjacent mosque.

The State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program had at one time offered up to a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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