Al-Qaida's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri hinted that Israel may be the target of future attacks by the group, in a video aired by CNN early Monday on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. It was the latest in a flurry of al-Qaeda videos released ahead of the anniversary. In the video, al-Zawahri refers to Israel's bombardment of Lebanon this summer and the capture of Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah and Hamas. For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here.
Israel and al-Qaida
"You gave us every legitimacy and every opportunity to continue fighting you," al-Zawahri says, addressing the US in the video, which appeared to be new. "You should worry about your presence in the (Persian) Gulf, and the second place you should worry about is Israel."
The bespectacled Al-Zawahri was dressed in white and seated in front of a wall of bookshelves.
"Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster," he said. "And the days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah's permission and guidance."
Egyptian-born Al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy, criticized the West for supplying Israel with weapons, and called on the Muslim world "to rush with everything at its disposal to the aid of its Muslim brothers in Lebanon and Gaza."
The video could not be located by The Associated Press on any militant Web sites that normally carry messages and videos from al-Zawahri and other al-Qaida figures. As-Sahab, the terror network's media arm, posted notices late Sunday that the video would be posted shortly but it was not yet available early Monday.
It was unclear where CNN got the video. The network quoted a counterterrorism expert as saying the video had appeared on the Web site for As-Sahab, but the production company normally uses other Islamic Web sites to post its material. The SITE Institute, an organization that monitors militant Web sites, later said it too had obtained a copy of the one-hour, 16-minute video.
Late Sunday, another videotape posted on the Internet, purportedly by al-Qaida, showed previously unseen footage of a smiling Bin Laden and other commanders in a mountain camp apparently planning the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
That tape's documentary-like retrospective of the five years since the attacks was unusually long - 91 minutes, split into two segments - and sophisticated in its production quality compared to previous al-Qaida videos. The footage - with English subtitles - surfaced on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the attacks, on a Web site that frequently airs messages from bin Laden's terror network.
"Planning for Sept. 11 did not take place behind computer monitors or radar screens, nor inside military command and control centers, but was surrounded with divine protection in an atmosphere brimming with brotherliness ... and love for sacrificing life," an unidentified narrator said.
The video released Sunday, stamped with the emblem of As-Sahab, al-Qaida's media branch, was titled "Knowledge is For Acting Upon" and subtitled "The Manhattan Raid."
It showed the al-Qaida leader meeting with colleagues in a mountain camp believed to be in Afghanistan, as well as video clips of US Vice President Dick Cheney defending his old job at the oil company Halliburton, and US President George W. Bush at his inauguration. Other scenes show training at the camp, with masked militants doing martial arts kicks and practicing hiding and pulling out fold-out knives.
It included the last testament of two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Wail al-Shehri and Hamza al-Ghamdi, and showed bin Laden strolling in the camp, greeting followers.
"Among the devout group which responded to the order of Allah and order of his messenger were the heroes of Sept. 11, who wrote with the ink of their blood the greatest pages of modern history," the narrator said, referring to the hijackers who flew planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
Al-Shehri and al-Ghamdi were each shown speaking to the camera, their image superimposed over background pictures of the crumbling World Trade Center towers and the burning Pentagon, as well as a model of a passenger jet.
They both spoke of how Muslims must stand up to fight back against the West.
"If we are content with being humiliated and inclined to comfort, the tooth of the enemy will stretch from Jerusalem to Mecca, and then everyone will regret on a day when regret is of no use," al-Ghamdi said.
The two videotaped testimonies had never been seen before.
Al-Shehri was on American Airlines Flight 11, which was the first to hit the World Trade Center. Al-Ghamdi was on United Airlines Flight 175, which hit the second tower.
In the footage, Bin Laden wore a dark robe and white headdress, and was shown sitting alongside his former lieutenant Mohammed Atef and Ramzi Binalshibh, another suspected planner of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Atef, also known as Abu Hafs al-Masri, was killed by a U.S. airstrike on Afghanistan in 2001. Binalshibh was captured four years ago in Pakistan and is currently in US custody, and last week Bush announced plans to put him on military trial.
Bin Laden was shown expressing his appreciation for the Taliban, the Islamic regime that ran Afghanistan and gave refuge to al-Qaida until the US-led invasion toppled them in late 2001.
The video showed events up to 10 years before the Sept. 11 attacks - US troops in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Gulf War and bin Laden preaching to followers after the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Sudan. It also showed events afterward including a man in an orange jumpsuit at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
It was unclear when the tape was made, or how soon before the Sept. 11 attacks the footage of bin Laden was recorded.