GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – A Pentagon-produced movie about Al Qaeda had its premiere Monday at the first Guantanamo war crimes trial — shown to an audience of military jurors hearing evidence against a former driver for Usama bin Laden.
"The Al Qaeda Plan," is a 90-minute documentary that traces the origins and goals of the terrorist group, highlighting such milestones as the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the Sept. 11 attacks.
The star, if he could be called that, is bin Laden himself: He is shown firing rifles, giving news conferences from caves and rallying followers as the film traces his movements from Afghanistan, to Sudan and back.
It quotes declarations such as his August 1996 statement that "it is a duty now upon every tribe" in the Arabian peninsula to kill American soldiers.
The title of the Al Qaeda video is a tribute to "The Nazi Plan," a film the U.S. used to help convict German officers during the Nuremberg war crimes trials after World War II, said Evan Kohlmann, a consultant and terrorism expert hired to create the new video for use at the Guantanamo tribunals.
Prosecutors said they are showing the video to underscore that Salim Hamdan was part of a broader plan to attack the U.S. and its allies, even if he played only a small role as bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan.
"He is part of an overarching conspiracy," said Clayton Trivett, a civilian prosecutor from the Defense Department. "Whether he knew the specifics of the attacks or not, he knew Americans were going to be killed."
The film, which introduces some segments with Middle Eastern music, shows familiar footage of hooded fighters training on a jungle-gym-like apparatus at an Al Qaeda camp and gruesome images of bodies killed in the East Africa embassy bombings.
It was not immediately clear where else the film might be shown.
Hamdan is charged with conspiracy and aiding terrorism and faces up to life in prison if convicted in the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War II.
His lawyers say he was just a minor employee with no significant role in any attacks and they asked the judge not to allow the Al Qaeda video to be shown to the jury.
The judge allowed the video except a final section on the Sept. 11 attacks that he said would be "prejudicial."