LONDON – Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, smiles and jokes with another hijacker before the two turn serious and speak intently to a camera in a new video.
For more than 30 minutes, the video obtained yesterday by AP Television News, shows Atta, who flew one of the planes that brought down New York’s World Trade Center, and Ziad Jarrah, who piloted United Airlines flight 93, which crashed into a Pennsylvania field, sitting in front of a bare white wall, alternately alone and together.
The Sunday Times, which originally reported the video and posted it on its Web site, said it was made in Afghanistan and dated Jan. 18, 2000 – about a year and a half before the attacks against the United States – for release after the men’s deaths.
The newspaper said the hourlong video was made at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan. It includes images of Osama bin Laden speaking to supporters in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A time stamp indicated that the footage was shot on Jan. 8, 2000.
It has no sound, and the newspaper quoted a “U.S. source” who was not identified as saying that lip readers had been unable to decipher what the men were saying.
At times in the video, the two men look relaxed, laughing and chatting together before they grow serious and speak directly into the camera. At one point, they lean over a document the newspaper identifies as a will, studying it intently and sometimes pointing to specific sections and commenting to one another.
The Sunday Times said it had obtained the video “through a previously tested channel” but gave no further details. It said sources from al-Qaida and the United States had confirmed the video’s authenticity on condition of anonymity.
A U.S. “intelligence official,” who declined to be identified, citing government protocol, told The Associated Press that “we’re aware of the tape and we’re reviewing it.” The official refused to answer further questions.