Trump, in a Twitter post on Sunday, said US forces “delivered justice” by killing Jamal al-Badawi.
“We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against al-Qaeda continues,” tweeted Trump.
In a statement on Friday, US Central Command said its forces targeted Badawi in an air raid in the Marib governorate of Yemen.
He was indicted by a US federal grand jury in 2003 and charged with 50 counts of various terrorism offenses, including murder of US nationals and murder of US military personnel.
Seventeen sailors were killed on October 12, 2000 when two men in a small boat detonated explosives alongside the guided missile destroyer as it was refueling in Aden.
The blast left a gaping hole in the vessel’s hull and wounded more than three dozen others.
Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi. Our work against al Qaeda continues. We will never stop in our fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2019
The attack, claimed by al-Qaeda, is considered an early success for the armed group and its founder Osama bin Laden.
Badawi said to have supplied boats and explosives for the attack on US Navy destroyer.
He was also charged with attempting with co-conspirators to attack a US Navy vessel in January 2000, and was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
There had been a $5m reward for information leading to his arrest.
Badawi was captured by Yemeni authorities but escaped from prison in April 2003. He was recaptured in March 2004, but again escaped in February 2006.
The chief suspect in the attack, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, is being held in the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.