USS Cole Bombing

The USS Cole, a Navy guided missile destroyer, following the suicide attack in the port of Aden, Yemen on October 12, 2000.

On October 12, 2000, suicide terrorists exploded a small boat alongside the USS Cole—a Navy Destroyer—as it was refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The blast ripped a 40-foot-wide hole near the waterline of the Cole, killing 17 American sailors and injuring many more.

We quickly sent to Yemen more than 100 agents from our Counterterrorism Division, the FBI Laboratory, and various field offices. Director Louis Freeh arrived soon after to assess the situation and to meet with the President of Yemen. On November 29, a guidance document was signed between the U.S. State Department and the Yemeni government setting protocols for questioning witnesses and suspects. FBI and Yemeni investigators proceeded with interviews, and a large amount of physical evidence was shipped back to the FBI Laboratory for examination.

Our photographers took pictures of the crime scene that assisted in identifying the victims and provided detailed photographic information regarding the impact of the explosion. Later, our personnel from the FBI Lab, as well as bomb technicians and agents from our New York and Jackson Field Offices, traveled to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where the Cole had been brought, to examine the ship for additional evidence.

The extensive FBI investigation ultimately determined that members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network planned and carried out the bombing.