by Michelle Shephard
On a February morning in 2006, as Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, was jolted awake by the calls to prayer from the city’s mosques, 23 Yemeni prisoners crawled their way to freedom.
They had spent weeks patiently digging a 140-foot tunnel that would extend from their basement prison cell to a nearby mosque. Among the escapees were Jamal al-Badawi, the alleged mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole bombing that killed 17 American sailors, and Jaber al-Banna, a Yemeni with U.S. citizenship who was counted among the FBI’s 26 most wanted.
There was widespread speculation that the men had help from both inside the prison and out, only fueling fears about Yemen’s revolving doors of justice. It wasn’t the first time al-Badawi had escaped.