Yemen official says U.S. shares blame for Cole

Associated Press

SAN’A, Yemen — The United States itself bears some responsibility for the attack on the USS Cole because it helped create the terrorists who now consider America their worst enemy, Yemen’s foreign minister said Monday.

Foreign Minister Abdulkader Bajammal also said Yemen wants to work closely with the United States to combat terrorism.

"The operation was not Yemeni, not pure Yemeni," Bajammal said. "It is a network involving so many countries. Terrorism has no nation."

No one has yet been charged in the Oct. 12 bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors and wounded 39. Asked if any indictments were forthcoming, Bajammal said he had no information, noting it was not his area of responsibility.

But Bajammal said that if any Yemenis are found to have been involved, they may have simply been corrupt bureaucrats who provided logistical help in exchange for "a little baksheesh," or payoffs, not out of ideology.

"We are a victim of terrorism, not a source of terrorism," Bajammal said.

The attack on the Cole followed anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli protests in Yemen and across an Arab world enraged by violence in Palestinian areas. Nearly 300 people, mostly Palestinians, have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian clashes since September.

But the roots of anti-American terrorism are older and deeper, running back to the 1980s when one of the last-gasp Cold War battles was waged in the rugged mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.

In Washington, a senior U.S. official said the Clinton administration rejects any suggestion that the United States is somehow responsible for the Cole attack. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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