Video claims to show Bin Laden with 9/11 plotters

Al-Qaida released a videotape yesterday purporting to show some of the September 11 hijackers training in Afghanistan and meeting Osama bin Laden shortly before the 2001 attacks on the US.

The tape, which was broadcast by the Arabic satellite channel al-Jazeera, showed masked men practising martial arts and concealing knives. A procession of men, whose faces could not be clearly seen, also appeared descending a steep mountain path to a rocky gully, where they are greeted by Bin Laden, smiling in a white headdress and dark robe.

The video was produced by as-Sahab, al-Qaida's media arm, and appeared to have been issued to mark the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It included the video "wills" of two of the 19 hijackers, Hamza al-Ghamdi and Wail al-Shehri, in which they justified their actions as reprisals against supposed ill-treatment of Muslims by 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," Ghamdi said.

The Royal Institute of International Affairs issued a report yesterday arguing that although al-Qaida remained a powerful group its support was waning. The US-led response to the 2001 attacks had enhanced its reputation among radical Muslims but "seriously undermined" its ability to recruit, organise or raise funds, the report, titled Al-Qaida, Five Years On, said. It also argued that the group's attacks in Saudi Arabia and Jordan had killed Muslims and had therefore alienated many in the Islamic world.

The report said al-Qaida was being eclipsed in some parts of the Arab world by non-violent Islamic groups. It had also been outshone in the eyes of Arab militants by the recent military exploits of the Lebanese Shia group Hizbullah.

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