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Yemen: Eight jail tunnel escapees now in custody

Planner of USS Cole bombing among 15 at large after prison break

From Henry Schuster
CNN

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Among the escapees was Jamal Ahmed Badawi, considered the mastermind of the USS Cole attack.

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Yemen
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Yemen's government said Thursday that eight of the men who staged a daring escape from prison earlier this year have been captured or surrendered.

The latest escapee, Khalid al-Batati, 23, surrendered within the past week, according to a statement issued by the government. He had been serving a three-year prison term for planning attacks on the American, British and Italian embassies.

Twenty-three men, including the reputed mastermind of al Qaeda's deadly attack on a U.S. Navy destroyer, escaped from prison in early February.

The men used broomsticks and pieces of a broken fan to dig a tunnel that led from the prison to a nearby mosque, apparently using soccer balls with plastic tubing to aid in breathing. (Full story)

Among the escapees still at large are two men of high interest to the U.S. government, Jamal al-Badawi and Jaber Elbaneh.

Since their escape, al-Badawi and Elbaneh have been added to the FBI's list of most-wanted terrorists, with rewards of up to $5 million offered for information leading to their arrests.

Al-Badawi was sentenced to death by a Yemeni court in September 2004 for orchestrating the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000.

Seventeen sailors were killed and 39 wounded when two suicide bombers detonated an explosives-laden boat next to the Navy destroyer while it was docked in the port of Aden.

Elbaneh is charged in the United States with providing material support to terrorists and is a known member of a terrorist cell in Lackawanna, New York, dubbed the Lackawanna Six.

He dodged the fate of his counterparts, who pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges in 2003 and are serving seven- to 10-year sentences in U.S. federal prison.

Like them, Elbaneh traveled to an al Qaeda paramilitary camp in the summer of 2001, just weeks before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to authorities.

The Yemeni government said in February that three of the escapees had surrendered within a few weeks of the escape.

In addition to al-Batati, the other men listed as in custody are:

• Mohammed Ahmed Abdullah al-Dailami, 25;

• Aref Saleh Ali Magali, 22;

• Ibrahim Mohammed Abdou al-Maqri, 34;

• Fawzi Mohammed Abdul Qawi Alwajeeh, 24;

• Mansour Nasser Awad al-Bihani, 31;

• Zakariya Nasser Awad al-Bihani, 30;

• Omar Said Hassan Garallah, 26.

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