CAIRO, Egypt – A purported Al Qaeda video posted on the Internet late Sunday showed footage of a smiling Usama bin Laden meeting with top planners of the Sept. 11 attacks in a mountain camp believed to be in Afghanistan.
It also showed young men wearing Arab headdresses and sitting on the ground, watching a recorded speech by the Al Qaeda leader on a laptop computer.
"The calls of the Mujahid Sheik Abu Abdullah Usama Bin Laden awakened the consciousness of the youth of Islam... and awakened their spirit of sacrifice, defiance and love of martyrdom," an unidentified narrator on the tape said.
Excerpts of the footage aired on Al-Jazeera television on Thursday, and Al Qaeda announced it would later release the full video on the Internet.
The 55-minute tape — with English subtitles — surfaced late Sunday on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, on a Web site that frequently airs tapes and messages from bin Laden's terror network.
It came about 2 1/2 hours after another video, apparently made by producers of the Internet site itself, and not by Al Qaeda. That video showed a medley of previously aired images of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The bin Laden video was stamped with the emblem of As-Sahab, Al Qaeda's media branch. It showed the Al Qaeda leader meeting other commanders in a mountain camp, apparently planning the attacks on New York and Washington.
"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," the narrator said.
The video included the last testament of two of the 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 Sept. 11 hijackers.
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 in Afghanistan in 2001. Binalshibh was captured four years ago in Pakistan and is currently in U.S. custody, and last week President 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 Qaeda until the U.S.-led invasion that toppled the government in late 2001.
"They allowed us to prepare and train, despite international pressure, and knowing that we were getting ready to strike the idols of this age — the American forces and the NATO pact," the Al Qaeda leader said.
The footage was the fourth in a series of long videos that Al Qaeda has put out to memorialize the suicide hijackings against the Pentagon and World Trade Center, said Ben Venzke, head of IntelCenter, a private U.S. company that monitors militant message traffic and provides counterterrorism intelligence services for the American government.
The previous ones were issued in April and September 2002 and September 2003, each showing footage from the planning of the suicide hijackings and hijackers' last testimonies, Venzke told The Associated Press on Thursday, when the excerpts aired on al-Jazeera.