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'99 Video of 9/11 Hijackers Aired

May 08, 2003|From Associated Press

BERLIN — A wedding video shot in a Hamburg mosque has been broadcast for the first time and shows grainy scenes of Sept. 11 hijackers celebrating with other alleged plotters, possibly including suspects still not formally identified.

The video of the October 1999 wedding of Said Bahaji being celebrated in a large room at the Al Quds mosque -- suspected as a recruiting center for Al Qaeda network operatives -- has been in the hands of investigators since shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. It was broadcast Tuesday by ABC and CNN and also distributed to other television outlets.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the wedding video provided investigators with crucial links between the suicide hijackers and other suspected members of the Hamburg cell in Germany.

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft cited the video at a news conference with German Interior Minister Otto Schily in October 2001. Ashcroft noted that Zakariya Essabar, a Moroccan who left Germany on Sept. 6, 2001, and remains at large, appeared along with Ziad Jarrah, the suspected pilot of the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, and Marwan Al-Shehhi, who is suspected of piloting the jet that hit the south tower of the World Trade Center.

Along with congratulations for Bahaji, who is now a fugitive, the video featured a fiery speech by Ramzi Binalshibh, the suspected logistician of the Sept. 11 attacks who is in U.S. custody. The wedding coincided with the time when German prosecutors say the Al Qaeda cell in Hamburg rallied around the plot to use airplanes to attack the United States.

"I could imagine that the seed was sown there," chief German federal prosecutor Kay Nehm told reporters in August 2002.

The number of people identified in the video has grown to more than 20, including lead hijacker Mohamed Atta.

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