This week (October 6-12) in crime history - Anwar Sadat was assassinated (October 6, 1981); First train robbery in the United States (October 6, 1866); Luxury cruise shop Achille Lauro was hijacked (October 7, 1985); Mobster Roger “The Terrible” Touhy escaped from an Illinois prison (October 9, 1942); Mass shooting the Ridgeway, New Jersey post office (October 10, 1991); Vice President Sprio Agnew resigned (October 10, 1973); USS Cole was attacked by terrorists (October 12, 2000); Terrorist bombs kill 200 in Bali (October 12, 2000).
Highlighted Crime of the Week –
On October 12, 2000, a motorized rubber dinghy loaded with explosives blows a 40-by-40-foot hole in the port side of the USS Cole, a U.S. Navy destroyer that was refueling at Aden, Yemen. Seventeen sailors were killed and 38 wounded in the attack, which was carried out by two suicide terrorists alleged to be members of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network.
The Cole had come to Aden at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula to refuel on its way to join U.S. warships that were enforcing the trade sanctions against Iraq. It was scheduled to remain in the port for just four hours, indicating that the terrorists had precise information about the destroyer's unannounced visit to the Aden fueling station. The terrorists' small boat joined a group of harbor ships aiding the Cole moor at a refueling, and they succeeded in reaching the U.S. warship unchallenged. Their dinghy then exploded in a massive explosion that ripped through the Cole's port side, badly damaging the engine room and adjoining mess and living quarters. Witnesses on the Cole said both terrorists stood up in the moment before the blast.
The explosion caused extensive flooding in the warship, causing the ship to list slightly, but by the evening crew members had managed to stop the flooding and keep the Cole afloat. In the aftermath of the attack, President Bill Clinton ordered American ships in the Persian Gulf to leave port and head to open waters. A large team of U.S. investigators was immediately sent to Aden to investigate the incident, including a group of FBI agents who were focused exclusively on possible links to Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden had been formally charged in the U.S. with masterminding the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Six men believed to be involved in the Cole attack were soon arrested in Yemen. Lacking cooperation by Yemeni authorities, the FBI has failed to conclusively link the attack to bin Laden.
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of numerous books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link.