Copies of the agreements obtained by the Associated Press show that $70 million will be split among families of 17 people killed, as well as 15 sailors who were injured and two of their spouses. In the agreement, Sudan makes no admission of wrongdoing.
On Oct. 12, 2000, two suicide bombers in a boat detonated their explosives alongside the USS Cole as the Navy destroyer was refueling in the Yemeni port of Aden. In addition to the 17 killed, the blast wounded more than three dozen other crew members. Sudan was accused of providing support to al-Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the attack. The country was designated by Washington as a “state sponsor of terror” for hosting the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden.
The United States has been looking at whether to remove Sudan’s terrorism designation “for quite some time,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Thursday. He did not offer any indication about when such a change to its status could take place.
Sudan’s Justice Ministry said the agreement was signed with the victims’ families on Feb. 7.
Faisal Saleh, Sudan’s information minister and interim government spokesman, told the AP that settlement figures could not be disclosed, because the Sudanese government is still in negotiations to reach settlements with families of victims of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
But Adam Hall, an attorney for the families of the victims, confirmed the contents of the settlement. The $70 million is on top of $14 million that was awarded in an earlier case.
Hall said the families have been pursuing the case for more than 15 years. “Sudan was finally of the view that it was willing to resolve these cases,” he said.
The announcement was the latest effort by the interim government to close the book on former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, whose three decades of iron-fisted rule was brought to an end in popular protests last year. On Tuesday, Sudan said it would hand Bashir and other Sudanese officials over to the International Criminal Court to be tried for war crimes.