USS Cole Attack Fake IDs Probed

Monday, October 23rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ADEN, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni authorities were questioning officials from a civil registration department, trying to find out about a fake identification card issued to a suicide bomber who blew a hole in the side of a U.S. warship, Yemeni sources close to the investigation said Sunday.

One bomber was believed to have used a fake ID card indicating he was Abdullah Ahmed Khaled al-Musawah, a resident of Lahej, 22 miles north of Aden, the sources said, insisting on anonymity. Authorities believe more fake cards were issued by the civil registration office in Lahej, the sources said without elaborating.

Officials of the civil registration office suspected of involvement in issuing the fake identification cards were among more than 60 people being held for questioning by Yemeni authorities, the sources said.

All papers submitted by the applicant for the identification card that was issued in the name of al-Musawah were missing from the registration office, they said.

The sources did not say when the attackers entered Yemen or where they came from, but said the fake cards were issued July 14, 1997, when the attackers were believed to be outside the country. People interviewed about the suspected bombers said their Arabic was of a Gulf dialect.

Authorities have been searching houses and other locations believed to have been used by the attackers; two unidentified people had been staying in at least one of the houses and have not been seen since the Oct. 12 explosion, which killed 17 sailors aboard the USS Cole and injured 39 others.

Meanwhile, the sources said three more houses in suburbs near the port were believed linked to the bombings, and investigators were searching them for clues. Authorities earlier had linked the suspects to at least one other house in Aden.

A senior U.S. government official in Aden said a great deal of physical evidence had been moved from various locations under investigation. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. labs can perform some tests on the evidence that, because of technical limitations, Yemen cannot carry out.

The senior official would not say what sort of evidence had been found or whether some already had been sent to the United States.

At the site of the bombing, sailors continued repair work on the destroyer and divers collected forensic evidence from the sea bed.