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Ahead Of The Curve

Investigators Identify USS Cole Bombing Suspect, Say Other Attacks May Be Planned

Aired December 21, 2000 - 5:06 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Investigators have confirmed the identity of one of the two men suspected of carrying out the October suicide bombing attack on the USS Cole, and terrorism experts are warning that more attacks may be planned.

CNN national security correspondent David Ensor with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. and Yemeni officials say this man, Osan (ph) Saeed Awad Al- Khamri, was one of the two suicide bombers who died attacking the USS Cole in Aden Harbor on October 12th. Using a false name, Omu Sawa (ph), he registered the boat that was used in the attack.

The Cole bomber Al-Khamri was from the same Yemeni province as accused terrorist leader Osama bin Laden's family, though bin Laden was raised in Saudi Arabia. U.S. and Yemeni officials have found evidence linking bin Laden's Al Qaeda (ph) group to the Cole bombing, though they say they are not ready to accuse him of ordering the attack.

However, a U.S. investigator in Yemen tells CNN that a known associate of bin Laden's, Mohammed Omar Al-Harazi (ph), first started calling Yemeni conspirators about attacking a U.S. warship right after the 1998 attacks on two U.S. embassies in east Africa. Bin Laden has been indicted in those attacks.

In the meantime, U.S. officials are bracing for possible additional attacks. Specific threats caused cancellation of a port call by the aircraft carrier Truman to Naples, Italy.

(on camera): U.S. officials monitoring terrorist groups say the level of the threat is very high, especially for U.S. personnel and facilities in Western Europe and the Middle East -- particularly in Jordan and Turkey. They say that will remain the case at least through the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan near the end of December and possibly through New Year's.

(voice-over): Within Ramadan, there is particular concern about terrorism coinciding with the Muslim night of power, this year on December 23rd, the night the prophet Mohammed first received verses of the Quran. IMAM YAHYA HENDI, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: People during that night focus on prayers, they read from the holy Quran -- they reflect on it -- they try to renew their commitment to God and to their faith.

ENSOR: The Muslim night of power was last marked on January 3, 2000: On that day this ship, the USS The Sullivans, escaped a bomb attack in Yemen only because the attackers bombed laden skiff filled with water before it could reach the ship.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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