New and threatening messages have been received from al-Qaida. There’s a videotape aimed at American and Saudia Arabian rulers and another that includes what appears to be well-produced footage of the 9/11 attacks — raising still other questions.
THE MENACING new al-Qaida video obtained by NBC News features a new look — a terror cell that claims to be training inside Saudi Arabia mugs for the camera with most faces blurred to conceal identities.
Their attire and weapons look like a professional assault team and they appear to be practicing an entry drill consistent with tactics used in bombings this year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where small teams of shooters breach security to get car bombs in place.
It’s apparently the latest propaganda piece from al-Qaida, with dire warnings for the West and the Saudi royal family.
Terrorism analyst Ben Venzke, who supplies material to U.S. law enforcement, downloaded the material from a known al-Qaida Web site: “It’s significant that al-Qaida is training terrorists within Saudi Arabia because it would appear they are preparing for a continued campaign of regular strikes both against the Saudi regime and Western interests,” Venzke said.
The only man who is identifiable is Abdel Al-Otaibe, killed by Saudi security forces only days before the November bombings in Riyadh. “I strongly encourage young Muslims to join the jihad for Allah’s sake, to protect our land and to drive Christians and Jews out of Muslim countries,” Al-Otaibe said on the tape.
The tape appears to be real, because it was posted late Wednesday night on a known al-Qaida Web site — produced by a company that has made other bin Laden tapes.
The tape also contains what U.S. counterterror experts say may be never-before-broadcast video of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York’s World Trade Center shot from across the East River in Brooklyn. The FBI says it is familiar with the video, which was provided by a friendly bystander.
But that raises the question — how did a tape that was not widely circulated end up on a known al-Qaida site?
Experts emphasize that these videos serve many purposes. “The release of the tapes clearly has a way of globalizing others to carry out suicide operations,” said terrorism expert and NBC News consultant Steve Emerson.
U.S. officials said Thursday they are anxious to study this latest message from al-Qaida, which was posted only hours after the State Department issued still another warning about possible terror attacks against Americans in Riyadh.
Lisa Myers is NBC News’ senior investigative correspondent.