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Al Qaeda reminds followers of Sep 11 as West mourns

Written by: Staff
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ISLAMABAD, Sep 11 (Reuters) Al Qaeda's release of a videotape showing Osama bin Laden exhorting members of a suicide squad involved in the September 11 attacks was part of a media war meant to rouse Islamist militants worldwide, analysts say.

While, international media broadcast images of mourning for the victims on the fifth anniversary and Western governments use it to reinforce their justification for the war on terrorism, al Qaeda shows it as triumph of the suicide squad's faith.

''Bin Laden wants to memorialise this date in history,'' said Rohan Gunaratna, of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies in Singapore.

Images showing the al Qaeda leader with Ramzi Binalshibh, one of the key planners in the plot, now in US custody, and addressing leaders of the suicide squad, were significant.

By releasing the tape, analysts say al Qaeda was declaring ''we did this'', ending doubt among conspiracy theorists that anyone else had flown the airliners into New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Washington, killing almost 3,000 people.

The tape first aired by the Qatar based al Jazeera news channel gave no clue to Osama bin Laden's whereabouts.

''The basic purpose of this tape appears to be to allay all doubts that bin Laden was not associated with 9/11. It is the first ever time that al Qaeda has shown Osama bin Laden meeting the executers (of the Sept. 11 attacks),'' Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, al Jazeera's bureau chief in Pakistan, said.

Bin Laden hasn't been seen on any new videotape since late 2004, though audiotapes surfaced this year, and US intelligence has authenticated the voice on them belonged to the Saudi-born fugitive with a million reward on his head.

''Osama bin Laden does not attach much importance to whether people think he is dead or alive. He does not think in the Western way, his message goes beyond the importance of himself or al Qaeda.

His message goes out to supporters of the global jihad,'' Gunaratna, author of ''Inside al Qaeda'', said.

MORE REUTERS BDP KN1723

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