[JURIST] Two websites with ties to Yemen's government Sunday denied earlier assertions that Jamal al-Badawi [MIPT profile], one of the masterminds behind the 2000 terror attack [US DOD press briefing] on the USS Cole [official website; JURIST news archive], had been set free. Yemeni security officials said Thursday that Al-Badawi, who along with 22 others escaped from a prison in 2004, was released after turning himself in earlier this month and pledging loyalty to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The White House sharply criticized the reported release, with a spokesman from the US National Security Council describing Yemen's move as "deeply disappointing." An unnamed Interior Ministry spokesman quoted on the website of the country's ruling National Congress Party as well as another site associated with the Defense Ministry has nonethless said that "Jamal al-Badawi...is now a detainee of the Interior Ministry and is under investigation by the concerned authorities."
The BBC reported on Saturday that al-Badawi, who was sentenced to death in 2004 for his role in the bombing, would "be kept under effective house arrest after pledging allegiance to Yemen's president." Badawi was sentenced to death in 2004 for his role in the bombing, which killed 17 US sailors. After learning of his escape in 2006, the FBI added Badawi to its Most Wanted Terrorists list with a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Reuters has more.