Such was the importance of capturing Badawi that the State Department's Rewards for Justice had once offered $5 million for information that could lead intelligence agencies to him.
The U.S. has been criticized under both the Obama and Trump administrations for excessive civilian casualties from drone strikes conducted over the past 16 years, with some estimates claiming nearly a third of those killed in the strikes were not terrorists, although investigators concede it can be hard to determine who belongs to al-Qaeda or any other faction in Yemen.
Al-Qaida claimed responsibility.
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A U.S. airstrike in Yemen on January 1 reportedly killed a notorious al-Qaeda operative.
"We are aware of reports that Jamal al-Badawi was killed in a strike in Yemen", Urban said.
Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali Al-Badawi, an al-Qaeda operative on the FBI's most wanted list, was killed during a strike in Yemen's Ma'rib Governorate, a U.S. official told CNN. The official said there was no indication of collateral damage.
The spokesman, Navy Capt. William Urban at U.S. Central Command headquarters, said Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 that the Jan. 1 airstrike targeted Jamal al-Badawi. Docked in Aden for a routine refueling stop, the guided-missile destroyer was approached by a small boat loaded with explosives, which was then detonated. He was sentenced to death but his sentence was later reduced to 15 years in prison, the Associated Press reported. The court upheld today one death sentence against an Al-Qaeda militant and commuted Badawi's sentence to 15 years in prison for the 2000 bombing of the USA navy destroyer Cole in Yemen. He was recaptured in March 2004 but escaped Yemeni custody again in February 2006.