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Bin Laden to appear in new video: Al-Qaeda

world Updated: Sep 11, 2007 04:26 IST
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Osama bin Laden will appear for the second time in a week in a new video to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, presenting the last will and testament of one of the suicide hijackers, Al-Qaeda announced on Monday.

Each year, Al-Qaeda has released videos of last statements by hijackers on the anniversary of the 2001 attacks, using the occasion to commemorate its "martyrs" and rally its sympathizers. But this year's underlines how bin Laden is re-emerging to tout his leadership _ whether symbolic or effective _ of the jihadi, or holy war, movement. Past anniversary videos featured old footage of bin Laden, but the latest appeared likely to include a newly made speech by the terror leader.

Bin Laden had not appeared for nearly three years until a new video released over the weekend. In that video, he addressed the American people, telling them the war in Iraq was a failure and taking on a new anti-globalization rhetoric. He urged Americans to abandon capitalism and democracy and embrace Islam. Al-Qaeda's media arm, Al-Sahab, announced the upcoming video Monday with an advertising banner posted on an Islamic militant Web forum where the group often posts its messages.

The video was likely to be released within 24 hours to coincide with September 11, said Ben Venzke, head of IntelCenter, a US group that monitors and analyzes militant messaging.

"Coming soon, God willing, from the testaments of the martyrs of the New York and Washington attacks: The testament of the martyr Abu Musab Waleed al-Shehri, presented by Sheik Osama bin Laden, God preserve him," the banner read.

The banner included a still image of bin Laden from the upcoming video. Shown raising his finger, he has the same dyed-black beard and the same clothes _ a white robe and cap and beige cloak _ that he had in the video posted on the Web on Saturday. Saturday's video was likely filmed in early August, and "There is a strong possibility ... that the (upcoming video) shows bin Laden in the same setting," Venzke said.

Al-Qaeda's media operations have become increasingly sophisticated, as have the anniversary videos.

Last year, Al-Qaeda released a 55-minute documentary talking about the planning of the attacks that hit the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The video included old but previously unreleased footage showing bin Laden strolling through an Afghan training camp where the attacks were apparently planned and chatting with top Al-Qaida lieutenants _ including Mohammed Atef and Ramzi Binalshibh. Atef was later killed in a November 2001 US airstrike in Afghanistan, and Binalshibh was captured in 2002.

The documentary also included the last testimonies of two hijackers, Wail al-Shehri and Hamza al-Ghamdi. The video was accompanied by another with an address by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.

Waleed al-Shehri, Wail's brother, was one of the hijackers on American Airlines flight 11 that hit the World Trade Center. Bin Laden's new appearances underline the failure to find the terror leader that US President George W Bush vowed in the wake of the September 11 attacks to take "dead or alive." On Sunday, Bush's homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend sought to play down bin Laden's importants _ and added a taunt, saying he was "virtually impotent."

But terrorism experts say Al-Qaeda's core leadership is regrouping in the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. The latest National Intelligence Estimate says the network is growing in strength, intensifying its efforts to put operatives in the United States and plot new attacks.

Bin Laden's video on Saturday was his first message in over a year since a July 1, 2006 audiotape. The images came under close scrutiny from US intelg fold.