tampabay.com

2000 al-Qaida tape shows two of Sept. 11 hijackers

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published October 2, 2006


LONDON - A new videotape shows two of the Sept. 11 hijackers smiling for a camera in footage taken more than 18 months before they carried out the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Mohamed Atta and Ziad Jarrah look much different in the tape than they do in photographs made famous after the attacks.

Both seem younger, are bearded, and the infamously bleak gaze of Atta, the ringleader of the attacks five years ago, is replaced by a somewhat softer expression. Osama bin Laden also appears on the tape, speaking to a large group of people in January 2000.

The Sunday Times, which originally reported on the video and posted it on its Web site, said the footage was taken in Afghanistan and was meant to be released after the men's deaths.

The soundless video appears to be a departure from previous releases by al-Qaida, which is "normally very professional in their media," said Paul Beaver, an independent defense and security expert.

It did not appear on Web sites commonly used by the group. The newspaper quoted an unidentified American source who said that lip readers had been unable to decipher what the men were saying.

The Sunday Times said that it had obtained the video "through a previously tested channel," but it gave no further details. It said sources from al-Qaida and the United States had confirmed the video's authenticity on condition of anonymity.

The newspaper said the hourlong video was made at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan, is dated Jan. 18, 2000, and contains the only known footage of Atta and Jarrah together.

Ben Venzke, head of the Virginia-based IntelCenter, which monitors terrorism communications, said the video was probably raw footage that al-Qaida had intended to edit into a package similar to one released last month showing the last testament of two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Wail Alshehri and Hamza Alghamdi.