(AFP) – Sep 10, 2007
DUBAI (AFP) — Al-Qaeda's media arm said Monday on the eve of the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks that it will soon release a new video of Osama bin Laden giving the last testament of one of the hijackers.
As-Sahab made the announcement on a website used by Islamist militants, just days after it released the first video in nearly three years of the world's most wanted man.
It did not specifically say whether the release would be a video or audiotape, but showed images of bin Laden and hijacker Walid al-Shehri, suggesting it would be a video.
"Soon, God willing, testaments of the martyrs of the New York and Washington conquests," the announcement said. "Testament of the martyr ... Walid al-Shehri, presented by Sheikh Osama bin Laden, God preserve him."
The image of bin Laden shown on the website was the same as his appearance in last Friday's broadcast video, wearing a white robe topped by a beige cloak and with his beard trimmed and dyed in black.
The US-based IntelCenter, which monitors Islamic militant websites, said it would be the sixth such last will to be issued by a 9/11 hijacker and expected it to be released in 72 hours, even within 24 hours.
Shehri, a Saudi national, was one of the hijackers on an American Airlines flight that hit the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi.
In the previous video, the elusive Al-Qaeda chief mocked the United States as "weak" and vowed to escalate fighting in Iraq.
It was bin Laden's first such appearance since October 2004, when he threatened new attacks against the United States in a video just days before the US presidential election.
Experts warned that the new video, which was presented as a "message to the American people," offered hints that Al-Qaeda is planning another attack on US interests.
According to Azzam Tamimi, head of the London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought, the beard dye is a "sign of war."
The rigorous Salafi Islamic school to which bin Laden belongs "condones this dye only in preparation for war," he said.
But a top White House official said that the video, while appearing to be genuine, contained nothing to suggest that an attack on the United States was imminent.
"There's nothing overtly obvious in the tape that would suggest that this is a trigger for an attack," said Frances Townsend, President George W. Bush's Homeland Security Advisor.
Bush himself said that the new video showed how dangerous the world remains and how the United States must show resolve in Iraq, which is "a part of this war against extremists".
Analysts said the video, which contained several references to recent events, laid to rest speculation about the possible death of the fugitive bin Laden.
Widely believed hiding in the remote tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border, bin Laden has evaded capture despite a huge US manhunt and a bounty on his head that Congress has proposed doubling to 50 million dollars.
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