DOHA, 10 September — Suspected terror mastermind Osama Bin Laden was heard claiming responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in video clips aired by Qatar’s Al-Jazeera satellite television yesterday. Al-Jazeera also broadcast footage of militants which it said were among those Al-Qaeda members who carried out the 9/ 11 attacks.
The video showed them pouring over flying manuals and aerial maps of the Pentagon, one of the group’s targets along with New York’s World Trade Center.
The militants were filmed in the Afghan city of Kandahar "a few months" before heading to the United States to carry out the attacks that left about 3,000 dead, the station said.
Meanwhile, over still photos of the hijackers, Bin Laden’s voice was heard naming some of the attackers in the Sept. 11 strikes, including Egyptian Muhammad Atta who he said "led the group which destroyed the first tower" of the World Trade Center.
Describing the attacks as "the New York and Washington raids," Bin Laden praised "the men who changed the course of history and cleansed the (Arab-Islamic) nation from the filth of treacherous rulers and their subordinates."
Apart from Atta, Bin Laden named Lebanese Ziyad Al-Jarrah, Marwan Al-Shehhi from the United Arab Emirates, "who destroyed the second tower" of the World Trade Center, and Hani Hanjour (from Taif) "who destroyed the Pentagon."
Al-Jazeera showed photographs of Hamza Al-Ghamdi (alias Julailib Al-Ghamdi), Saeed Al-Ghamdi (alias Mutaz Al-Ghamdi), Wael Al-Shehri (alias Abu Suleiman) and Ahmad Naami (Abu Hisham), whose names, like those cited by Bin Laden, figure on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) list of suicide hijackers.
Al-Jazeera said it had obtained the videotape which was "recently" recorded by Al-Qaeda to mark the first anniversary of the attacks. It said it would air the full video today.
But the Doha-based channel did not shed light on the whereabouts of Bin Laden, whose fate has been the subject of intense speculation for months.
Al-Jazeera also aired footage of one of the hijackers saying in his "will" that he was trained by Bin Laden. "May God reward all those who trained me and made possible this glorious act, notably the fighter and Mujahed (Islamic warrior) Osama Bin Laden, God protect him," said Saudi kamikaze Abdul Aziz Al-Omari.
Al-Omari, who according to the FBI was one of five suicide hijackers who slammed an American Airlines Boeing 767 into the north tower of the World Trade Center, was shown wearing a gray robe with his shoulder-length hair turbaned in a keffiyeh (checkered headdress).
The Sept. 11 attacks were "a message to all infidels and to America to leave the Arabian Peninsula and stop supporting the cowardly Jews in Palestine," he said. "Let it be known that we can bring you and other enemies down," Al-Omari said, addressing the United States.
It was the first time Bin Laden directly claimed responsibility for the attacks, Al-Jazeera said. However, a spokesman for Al-Qaeda also claimed the strikes in a videotape aired by the MBC television on April 17. "We were able to hit the head of the infidels on his own turf," Suleiman Abu Ghaith said in that tape. "God ordered us to terrorize the infidels, and we terrorized the infidels."
For its part, the US Defense Department released on Dec. 13 a private videotape of Bin Laden found in Afghanistan last fall. The footage showed Bin Laden meeting with supporters and claiming responsibility for the attack on the World Trade Center.
"We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all," Bin Laden said on that tape. But many people in Islamic circles and the Arab world cast doubt on it as inauthentic or doctored and not the smoking gun touted by US officials at the time.