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Sources: U.S. kills Cole suspect

CIA drone launched missile

Former bin Laden security guard Abu Ali
Former bin Laden security guard Abu Ali

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CNN's David Ensor says a U.S. rocket hit a car carrying al Qaeda's chief in Yemen, wanted for the bombing of the USS Cole (November 4)
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SANAA, Yemen (CNN) -- Six suspected al Qaeda members -- including an al Qaeda chief wanted in the bombing of the USS Cole -- were killed early Monday in Yemen when a CIA drone launched a "Hellfire" missile and struck the car they were traveling in, sources told CNN.

It was the first direct U.S. strike against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network outside Afghanistan since the U.S.-led war on terrorism began after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Officials with the Central Intelligence Agency and Pentagon refused to discuss the report.

The sources who spoke to CNN said the Hellfire missile was launched from an unmanned Predator aerial vehicle. All six people in the car died, they said. (More on Predator)

Video from the scene in Yemen's oil rich Marib province showed the car blown apart, with most of it reduced to black ash in the desert.

Sources identified one of the dead as Abu Ali, also known as Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, a former bin Laden security guard who was believed to have played a major role in the October 2000 attack on the destroyer Cole that killed 17 sailors.

Walid Al-Saqqaf, managing editor of the Yemen Times, told CNN that Ali was identified by a mark on his leg, which was blown off in the blast and found nearby.

He said Ali, who has been on the run and was believed to be harbored by tribesmen, has been the source of a massive hunt by security forces in Yemen. An attempt to capture him late last year failed. That botched attempt left more than a dozen security forces dead.

About 50 U.S. Special Forces troops have been in the country training Yemeni security forces. There was no immediate indication they took part in the strike.

During a campaign rally in Arkansas, President Bush did not comment directly on the incident in Yemen but said the United States is pursuing "international killers."

Type: Air-ground anti-tank missile
Length: 5 feet, 4 inches
Diameter: 7 inches
Wing span: 28 inches
Weight: 98 to 107 pounds
Speed: subsonic
Guidance: Laser or radar
Launched from: Navy Seahawk, Army Apache, and Marine Super Cobra helicopters; Predator unmanned aerial vehcles (drones)
Source: U.S. Navy, Jane's

"The only way to find them is to be patient and steadfast and hunt them down. And the United States of America is doing just that," Bush said.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke of Ali at a Pentagon press briefing Monday when questioned about the attack.

"It would be a very good thing if he were out of business," Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld said the U.S.-Yemen relationship "has been a good one and it's ongoing." He noted that Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh visited the Pentagon and agreed to cooperate in the war on terrorism.

"As a result, we have some folks in that country that have been working with the government and helping them think through ways of doing things," Rumsfeld said.

"And it's been a good cooperation, and we've shared some information, and we think that over time it ought to be beneficial."

Rumsfeld said a number of al Qaeda members are known to be hiding in Yemen, slipping into the country by sea and through its sparsely populated border areas -- what he said are used "advantageously by terrorists."

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