For USS Cole Victims' Families, Justice Is a Long Time Coming

17 Americans died in 2000; the trial has yet to begin
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2023 4:10 PM CDT
For USS Cole Victims' Families, Justice Is a Long Time Coming
In this Oct. 15, 2000 file photo, experts in a speed boat examine the damaged hull of the USS Cole at the Yemeni port of Aden after an al-Qaeda attack that killed 17 sailors.   (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis, File)

Eleven months before the 9/11 attacks came al-Qaeda's attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen. Seventeen sailors died. It would be two years before Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was arrested for allegedly organizing the bombing—and more than two decades later, his trial has yet to begin. Carol Rosenberg has been covering Guantanamo Bay, where Nashiri is detained, for just as long for the New York Times, and she checks in with the case and the family members and surviving crew members' long wait for justice. Her lines are sobering: She points out that Nashiri was charged in 2011, and eight parents of the 17 dead have themselves died while waiting for the trial to commence in the dozen years since. It's "the longest-running death penalty case in the war against terrorism," she writes.

Its progress has been slowed by debates over torture, which Nashiri was subjected to during the four years he spent in CIA custody, including at black site prisons, after his 2002 capture. Nashiri's confession was thrown out, with the judge determining it was tainted by that torture. The current judge will retire next month, meaning a fourth judge will soon be at the trial's helm. Relatives and survivors once populated a special section of the court when there were hearings; at the latest hearings, in June, only two came. "I'm a patient man," says Anton Gunn, whose 22-year-old brother Cherone died in the bombing. "I just want to hear the details. I'm not even presuming guilt at this point. I want to get past the procedural motions of what's admissible and what's not admissible, this delay and that delay. Let's get to the trial." (Read the full story.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.