Al Qaeda's 9/11 Anniversary Video Finally Released, Contains No Surprises

Eight days too late, al Qaeda's media wing As Sahab finally released a decrypted copy of its video marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks. Every year, the group tries to include special footage or statements and maintain an element of surprise. This year's tape however had no surprises. It was already known – through a banner posted on Internet forums – that the tape would include the farewell statement of Ahmed Salah al Ghamdi, the Saudi Sept. 11 hijacker who was on board of United Airline flight 175 which flew into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Al Ghamdi's statement itself was similar to ones made by other Sept. 11 hijackers and released by the group before.

There were no signs of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or American al Qaeda figure Adam Gadahn, who is known as Azzam al Amriki. There were media reports that Gadahn had been killed in a U.S. predator attack.

The tape included a statement by al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al Zawahri, but there's less attention on what the Egyptian militant leader says these days since he's been releasing frequent statements about various general issues.

In addition to a mix of old and new statements by al Qaeda figures, the tape also includes excerpts from an interrogation video that the groups said belonged to a "retired U.S. soldier" identified as Jonathan Keith Idema. "The mujahideen's security organ, with God's help, was able to acquire videotapes of the agent and retired American soldier Jonathan "Jack" Keith Idema and his criminal gang," says the voice on the tape. Idema is in fact a former U.S. soldier who in 2004 was sentenced by an Afghan court to ten years in prison for running a private prison/interrogation center and torture.

The footage shows a blindfolded suspect undergoing interrogation. At one point, the interrogator puts a string around his neck and pulls it, while instructing the interpreter to tell him he was going to kill him. The suspect is seen crying.

The video, which is entitled "Harvest of Seven Years of Crusades," opens with al Zawahri's statement, parts of which had been aired on the Arabic news channel al Jazeera around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Al Zawahri also released another statement focused on attacking the Egyptian regime today.

In the anniversary video, al Zawahri criticized the Iranian regime and once again accused it of facilitating the entrance of the U.S. forces into Iraq and Afghanistan, supported the respective governments put in place by the Americans by recognizing them and fought the Islamist militants in both countries. He extended his criticism to Hezbollah and its Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and mocked his "victory" celebrations over the Israeli army in the 2006 war.

Mostafa Abul Yazid, the leader of al Qaeda in Afghanistan , also appeared on the tape and reassured his audience that everything was going just fine on the Afghanistan front. "The jihadi operations against the enemy and its material and human losses are increasing," said Abul Yazid. "Even the enemy itself admitted a 40 percent increase in operations in recent months compared to last year," he added. He also referred to the increasing missile attacks on border villages by U.S. drones and claimed that the militants were enjoying more public support as a result of the "unjust destruction of their homes and the killing of men and children" in what he described as a "barbaric, bloody and terroristic murder."

Abul Yazid also unveiled al Qaeda's new tactics in the coming period, explaining that they will focus will be on major, large-scale attacks like the Kandahar prison operation and the Nursitan raid, the Sarobi ambush and the Khost airport operation which he claimed has killed 50 U.S. soldiers.

Senior al Qaeda leader Abu Yehya al Lib talked about the situation in Somalia and Chechnya and described what he claimed were "victories" achieved by the militants over there.

As Sahab also included an interview with Sheikh Attiyatullah, and fervent supporter of al Qaeda and an online star of the militant Islamist forums. Attiyatullah analysed the state of jihad on the various fronts, in Iraq , Afghanistan , Algeria , etc.

The video also contains old footage of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as excerpts from various TV interviews and documentaries.