Sat, Sep 09, 2006 - Page 6 News List

New al-Qaeda video shows 9/11 build up

AFP , DUBAI

A TV grab taken from a video produced by al-Qaeda-linked media group al-Sahab and broadcast by al-Jazeera news network on Thursday shows Wael al-Shihri, ``one of the martyrs of the Manhattan Raid,'' delivering a speech at an undisclosed time and place in front of a background bearing the photos of the Sept. 11 attacks.

PHOTO: AFP

Al-Jazeera broadcast previously unseen footage of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda suicide hijackers said to be preparing for the Sept. 11 attacks against the US.

The Arabic television station said the video, aired late on Thursday just days before the fifth anniversary of 2001 atrocities, "included scenes showing for the first time al-Qaeda leaders preparing the Sept. 11 attacks and practising for their execution."

The al-Qaeda chief, wearing a white turban and white and brown robes, is shown in the company of several dozen men, walking in a barren, rocky area that was not identified.

Al-Jazeera also showed images of two of the 19 Islamist militants who died in the attacks, Saudi nationals Hamza el-Ramdi and Wael el-Shehri.

According to al-Jazeera, the footage showed suspected Sept. 11 coordinator Ramzi bin al-Shaiba with Bin Laden who was telling his men "Prepare for the invasion, America is going to invade Afghanistan."

The Qatar-based station said it only aired a small part of the full video which lasted about an hour and a half and was made by a group called al-Sahab which specializes in recordings of al-Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups.

Bin Laden, the Western world's most wanted man who has a US$25 million bounty on his head but has eluded a vast manhunt and his whereabouts are still unknown.

Almost 3,000 people died on Sept. 11, 2001 when suicide hijackers took control of US airliners, slamming two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, causing them to collapse.

Another plane hit the Pentagon, the US military headquarters building near Washington, and the fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were Saudi nationals.

The footage aired by al-Jazeera showed hand-to-hand combat training between people who wore masks over their heads, and one of whom was armed with a knife.

Later on Thursday, the US Senate unanimously approved an additional US$200 million to this year's defense budget to fund an intelligence unit that would seek to hunt down bin Laden.

"Osama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda, planned, financed and organized a terrorist operation that killed thousands of Americans. It has now been more than 1,800 days since those attacks, and this man is still on the loose," said Democrat Kent Conrad.

Al-Jazeera also broadcast a recording attributed to the shadowy head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, in which he forecast victory against US-led forces in the country.

The recording, the first time Muhajer has spoken publicly since taking over as head of the group, was also posted on an Islamist Internet site, but its authenticity could not be established.

Muhajer, who succeeded slain al-Qaeda frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi after he was killed in a US air strike in Iraq in June, urged Sunni Muslims to kill at least one US citizen within the next two weeks.

"Oh followers of [Taliban leader] Mullah Mohammed Omar, oh sons of Osama bin Laden, oh disciples of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ... I urge each of you to kill at least one American within a period not exceeding 15 days," Muhajer said.

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