The former commander of the USS Cole is "thrilled" that the Sudanese government is taking a step to atone for aiding and abetting the terrorist attack on his ship.
October 12th will mark the 20th anniversary of the day 17 sailors were killed and more than three dozen others were wounded when two suicide bombers in small boats detonated explosives alongside the Navy destroyer USS Cole while it was refueling in a Yemeni port.
Sudan was accused of providing support to al-Qaida, which claimed responsibility for the attack. Under dictator Omar al-Bashir, the country was designated by Washington as a "state sponsor of terror" for hosting the group's leader, Osama bin Laden, in the early years of his terrorist reign. Now, in an effort to be removed from the list, Sudan's transitional government has agreed to a $70 million settlement with the victims.
Sudan, however, makes no admission of wrongdoing in the agreement.
"I am absolutely thrilled for the families and for the wounded crew members," responds Commander Kirk Lippold (USN-Ret.), who commanded the Cole during the terrorist attack. "I think it is a very significant development. It clearly shows that the government -- while they're not taking any responsibility, mostly because it's a different government while it may be the same country -- they're obviously not operating under a dictatorship anymore, and they're trying to come out from under the shadow of some of the very terrible things [Omar al-Bashir] engaged in."
Lippold calls this agreement one more step on the road toward healing.
"The crew and I and the families will never have closure," he asserts. "But what we can have is a sense of satisfaction that those people and those countries who aided and abetted al-Qaida in the attack on our ship be held accountable and be punished for their involvement in those acts."