Skip to comments.Focus: Chilling message of the 9/11 pilots
Posted on 09/30/2006 7:57:32 PM PDT by Kaslin
A video shows two of the worlds most infamous terrorists joking and laughing while filming their death wills at Osama Bin Ladens lair in Afghanistan. The journalist and author Yosri Fouda explains the terrible significance of the new find
See the video from noon today
Two bearded young men laugh and joke for the camera. They appear relaxed, well groomed, intelligent; they might be high-achieving students quietly celebrating an exam success. They look at a piece of paper and laugh some more.
What is so funny? Certainly not the piece of paper. There is Arabic script on it. Easily decipherable is the word al wasiyyah. This means the will.
It is the handwritten last testament of Ziad Jarrah, the lighter-haired and better-looking of the two young men. A well educated, middle-class Lebanese, he has been studying in Germany. So has his dark-haired companion, Mohammed Atta, also middle class and university educated, but born in Egypt. Atta has his will, too. Unsmiling, both men read them to camera.
These images are part of a videotape, nearly an hour long, that was filmed at Osama Bin Ladens lair in Afghanistan 6½ years ago. They are revealed today for the first time, and they are a missing chapter in the searing story of the attacks on America on September 11, 2001.
Atta led the team of 19 suicide attackers and flew American Airlines flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center. Jarrah piloted United Airlines flight 93. His assigned target was Capitol Hill, but the plane crashed.
ATTA and Jarrah have never been pictured together before. Indeed, a key element of their tradecraft was that they steered clear of each other. They were leading figures in the September 11 story, not only because they flew the planes but also because they apparently had everything to live for. Unlike most of the other hijackers, who were mainly provincial Saudi fundamentalists, Atta and Jarrah fitted easily into western society.
To the Germans who knew them in Hamburg they seemed entirely normal. The tape explains this mistake. It would be hard to look less homicidal until the camera pulls back and reveals that Atta is sitting next to an AK-47.
So the tape not only fills a gap in the story of September 11 but also provides chilling proof of the difficulty of fighting Islamic terrorism: these two normal, happy, unthreatening individuals turned out to have an explosive effect on the history of the 21st century.
The unedited video was passed to The Sunday Times through a previously tested channel. On condition of anonymity, sources from both Al-Qaeda and the United States have confirmed its authenticity. It has no sound and lip-readers have failed to decipher it, according to a US source but the images speak loudly for themselves.
The tape not only features Atta and Jarrah. It also gives a rare and intriguing sight of Bin Laden with his inner court.
It opens with 100 or so Al-Qaeda hardcore members sitting on the ground in the open air, obviously expecting something to happen. Among them are several children.
A very tall man surrounded by three armed bodyguards arrives in a sedate, presidential manner. It is Bin Laden, dressed in white from head to toe with an all-enveloping, light brown robe. He looks serene as he makes his way to a makeshift podium and beings to speak into a microphone.
The date recorded on this section of the video is January 8, 2000. That makes the occasion Eid ul-Adha, the end of Ramadan.
There are a few recognisable faces among the audience, including Ramzi Binalshibh, Attas Hamburg flatmate who was later to become the co-ordinator of the September 11 attacks. And among the bodyguards is Abu Jandal, who was the only one with the authority to put two bullets in Bin Ladens head if he was about to fall into enemy hands.
In the background are the tall mud-red walls of an impressive compound. It is clear that the location is part of a complex of about 80 buildings called Tarnak Farm in the desert near Kandahar airport. It was Bin Ladens clan base during his Afghan sojourn where he lived with his family and the inner core of Al-Qaeda.
American intelligence knew all about Tarnak Farm. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, CIA officers were able to map the entire site, identifying the houses that belonged to Bin Ladens wives and the one where he himself was most likely to sleep.
Less than two years before the video was recorded, the CIA had a plan to work closely with some of the local tribes to grab Bin Laden as he slept. It was a clear-cut, well rehearsed perfect operation, according to Michael Scheuer, who ran the CIA Bin Laden unit at the time. But it was never executed and there is still controversy in America about who cancelled it.
TEN days after Bin Ladens Eid speech, according to the date on the film, Atta and Jarrah read their martyrdom wills to the camera. This proof of their presence in Afghanistan at that time is just about the final main piece of the jigsaw: Atta, the man who decided zero hour on September 11 is for the first time on video, getting ready to record his martyrdom will.
Investigators have pieced together most of Attas life from his childhood as the son of a lawyer in Giza, northern Egypt, to the moment he boarded flight 11 except for an unexplained absence from Hamburg in early 2000. The date on the tape perfectly corresponds with this.
Those who have been closely following the story had little doubt where Atta had been. Binalshibh told me, Afghanistan, what else? when I asked him during a secret meeting four years ago. But in their painstaking efforts to find the proof that connected the dots, US investigators and, especially, their German counterparts, have struggled with little more than circumstantial evidence and presumed facts.
This played nicely into the hands of conspiracy theorists, both in the Muslim world and in the West. Now the investigators have the proof, and only the flakiest of anti-American fantasists can go on claiming that Bin Laden, Atta, Jarrah and co had no hand in September 11.
We can now even reveal Attas itinerary. On November 29, 1999 he boarded Turkish Airlines flight TK1662 from Hamburg to Istanbul, Turkey, where he changed to flight TK1056 bound for Karachi, Pakistan. From there he would have crossed into Afghanistan by road, most probably through Quetta. On the return journey, he left Karachi on February 24, 2000 by flight TK1057 to Istanbul where he changed to flight TK1661 to Hamburg. Five months later he entered the United States to start flight training.
Unedited, the extraordinary footage also gives us a glimpse into the superficially ordinary character of the man who would later spearhead the devastating terrorist attack.
Wearing western clothes black trousers and a dark brown, zip-collared sweater with zigzag stripes Atta appears uncomfortable putting on a typical Pashtun hat.
He gives a how-do-I-look glance at the camera. The hat goes off, on, off and he throws it away with wry smile. Ready now. He crosses his legs and picks up his handwritten will.
Cool, gathered and deliberate, Atta reads to camera for 10 minutes before the tape cuts to a collectors item: Atta and Jarrah together for the first time on camera.
With his stylish glasses, the handsome Lebanese is wearing a white, Saudi-style robe but appears to have western clothes on underneath.
Smiling, laughing and exchanging remarks, they discuss Jarrahs will as he holds it a superb set-up shot. Jarrah then gets his seven-minute exclusive appearance to tell the camera his last words.
THE significance of even a single frame of any of the September 11 pilots in Afghanistan could not be overestimated, let alone the sudden appearance of nearly 6,000 frames of the two most important and most puzzling hijackers.
Distinctively the black sheep of the whole lot plotters and hijackers Atta and Jarrah came from the two most liberal Arab countries, both from the heart of their respective communities, both from middle-class families, both intelligent, pleasant and trusted wherever they went, and both with impressive educational track records. Jarrah went to a Christian school in Beirut; Atta advanced his English at The American University in Cairo.
Then they both had ambitions beyond what they thought their countries could offer. They both went to Germany; Atta in 1992 to end up preparing a masters degree in city planning; and Jarrah in 1996 to end up preparing his in aeronautical engineering.
Again, they both could not cease to impress. So much so that Professor Dittmar Machule, who taught Atta at the Technical University in Harburg, a quiet suburb of Hamburg, still cannot understand what happened to the brilliant student he used to pick to fill in for him in seminars whenever he was busy.
While they lived in Hamburg, Atta and Jarrah were never meant to be seen together in one place at the same time, almost certainly on instructions.
Atta lived with other members of the Hamburg cell in a small flat while Jarrah was kept apart in a nicer part of Hamburg, living with a girlfriend and drinking alcohol. Yet in Afghanistan they appear at ease in others company.
When in mid-2000 they travelled to Florida, they were separate once again even though they enrolled at flying schools that stood virtually next to each other.
If the appearance of this video solves one mystery, the big question about both Atta and Jarrah is still with us: how on earth did such impressive young men with everything to live for develop such a mindset? Neither was mad and neither was brainwashed. If anything at all they were both the antithesis of such naive and easy explanations.
One would confidently argue that someone of the calibre of Mohammed Atta would have been incapable of being brainwashed.
When Atta taped his will, he was not yet the leader of the hijackers. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the organiser of the plot, had earmarked two other men Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Midhar as his spearhead and had sent them to flight school in California. But he quickly changed his mind.
His protégés failed to live up to his expectations. One flight instructor actually called them dumb and dumber.
Much more importantly, Attas exceptional abilities had just been discovered.
The perfect soldier was here and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed could not have asked for more. I would even argue that had not Atta accidentally appeared on Khalids radar, the aeroplanes operation, as it as known to Al-Qaeda, may never have stood a chance of success.
Yosri Fouda is the chief investigative reporter for Al-Jazeera Television Pictures: The Sunday Times Tarnak Farm, near Kandahar, where Mohammed Attas video was shot, has a special place in the history of Al-Qaeda: it was once Osama Bin Ladens personal kingdom within Afghanistan.
Exclusively Arab, it was home for Bin Ladens wives and children, as well as for the elite fighters being trained for special operations. And, as we now know, for a few weeks in early 2000 it was home to Atta, leader of the 9/11 hijackers.
The farm, which covered about 100 acres, lay on a patch of desert about three miles south of Kandahar airport. It had originally been constructed by the Afghan government as an agricultural co-operative.
A mud-brick wall was built 10ft high to create a compound; inside there were about 80 one and two-storey buildings, including dormitories, storehouses, a small mosque and a building that Bin Laden converted into a medical clinic for his family and followers.
US intelligence knew Bin Laden, already a wanted terrorist, used Tarnak as his base, and in spring 1998 the CIAs Counterterrorist Center began working on a plan to capture him at the compound, partly with the help of Afghan tribal fighters.
Afghans scouted and mapped the farm, and the CIA photographed it from space. The plan called for about 30 fighters to assemble at a staging post before driving to a second position a few miles from Tarnak.
From there the main raiding party would walk to the farm, arriving at 2am and avoiding minefields by crawling through drainage ditches. A second group would make its way towards the front gate, taking out the two guards as the main party attacked the group of huts where Bin Ladens wives slept.
The plan was to bundle Bin Laden into a Toyota Land Cruiser and drive him to to a cave complex 30 miles away already stocked with food and water.
However, getting the plan accepted at CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, was not straightforward. It was known that dozens of women and children lived in the compound, and security chiefs feared there would be many casualties.
By June 1998, much to the disappointment of the field officers responsible for devising the plan, nobody at a senior level within the CIA seemed willing to support it. Nor was there any support within the White House.
The plan was called off shortly afterwards. CIA abandoned plan to snatch Bin Laden from Afghan farm
Atta's journey to mass murder
September 1, 1968 Born in Kafr el-Sheikh in the Nile delta, Egypt
October 1986 Joined Cairo University to study town planning; graduated in 1990
July 24, 1992 Arrived in Germany on a cultural exchange programme
November 23, 1992 Registered for a masters degree in urban planning at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg
End 1997 Thought to have travelled to Afghanistan for the first time, staying close to the compound of Osama Bin Laden near Kandahar
November 1, 1998 Moved into an apartment in Germany with other members of what later became known as the Hamburg cell. Many Al-Qaeda members lived in this apartment at various times; the September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed visited repeatedly. Ziad Jarrah, the flight 93 pilot with whom Atta is pictured above, moved close by at about the same time
November 29, 1999 Atta flew from Istanbul to Pakistan. From there he travelled to Afghanistan
January 2000 At Bin Ladens Tarnak Farm he is filmed laughing and joking with Jarrah while filming his last will and testament
March 2000 From Germany, Atta contacted 31 US flight schools to discuss pilot training
June 3, 2000 Entered US for the first time
July 2000 Atta enrolled at Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida. Jarrah trains at a flight school nearby
November 2000 Both earned their instrument certificates from the FAA
December 29, 2000 Atta practised on a Boeing 727 simulator in Miami
January 4, 2001 Atta flew to Spain to co-ordinate with Ramzi Binalshibh, a key Al-Qaeda planner, returning to America a week later
April 11 2001 Atta rented an apartment in Coral Springs, Florida, and assisted with the arrival of other hijackers
July-September 2001 Atta made eight or nine flights around America, some to meet other hijackers, some to carry out reconnaissance
August 28, 2001 Atta and other hijackers buy flight tickets for September 11
The other hijackers
Nineteen men hijacked four planes. They acted in teams of five, except on United Airlines 93, which had four hijackers led by Jarrah
Fifteen of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates. Atta came from Egypt, while Jarrah came from Lebanon. Only Atta and Jarrah were highly educated
Four weeks before the attacks Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker, had been arrested, ostensibly on immigration charges, after the FBI became suspicious about his pilot training
He later denied knowing about the September 11 attacks, but did plead guilty to conspiring to hijack planes. He is serving life in a US prison
It is thought that 18 of the 19 terrorists recorded video wills. Before this weekend only five had come to light and none from the four pilots
The attacks and the toll
United Airlines flight 175 and American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center towers on the morning of September 11, 2001. A total of 2,602 people died in the towers and on the ground
American Airlines flight 77, carrying 64 people, crashed into the Pentagon shortly afterwards: 125 people died on the ground
United Airlines flight 93 is thought to have been heading for Capitol Hill. But it crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers fought back. Forty crew and passengers died
There were no survivors from any of the planes, which were carrying 265 people. In total, the September 11 attacks are thought to have killed 2,973 people, although some others are still listed as missing
As I said on another thread, I hope they're not laughing now.
Ban islame! Send muuuhamhead back to the cat litter box of allahs paradise!
I agree, they had better not
After the Clinton interview, at least a third of all Americans probably think that George W. Bush cancelled it from the Texas governor's mansion.
Thanks for posting this. For all those who wish to call them "freedom fighters," I hope they're paying attention. This is pure evil, nothing less, nothing more.
Yea all the laughing stopped about a nanosecond after impact when they were welcomed into Hell by Satan and realized where they would spend eternity.
I doubt that those who call them freedom fighters will learn anything from this.
"...the big question about both Atta and Jarrah is still with us: how on earth did such impressive young men with everything to live for develop such a mindset? Neither was mad and neither was brainwashed. If anything at all they were both the antithesis of such naive and easy explanations.
One would confidently argue that someone of the calibre of Mohammed Atta would have been incapable of being brainwashed."
The author and many others still don't get it.
The Muslims think they are doing the rest of the world a favour, by converting them to Islam. Almost any means to achieve this is acceptable, and indeed desirable to the Muslim. They think they are doing Gods work, and that they will go straight to paradise.
Olberman is nothing but an idiot who thinks he is a TV personality
Bump for later
Does Allah give you credit if you die BEFORE you kill anyone? They were in the front of the plane.
What makes these people extraordinary in what they eventually did is the utter ordinariness of them.
You were right....I was livid watching the video.... They just DON'T get it!
--Olberman is nothing but an idiot who thinks he is a TV personality--
"Ubermann" has tried to resuscitate his sagging ratings by pandering to the moron.org and Daily Kossacks crowd.
By now he actually believes most of that conspiratorial
drivel, which spews from his mouth like sewage from a clogged toilet.
Im sure that allah (satan) will give them credit, all the credit they want. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), all the credits in the world will do them no good now or for eternity.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.