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Video shows inside look at al Qaeda cell, authorities say

From Mike Boettcher

The wedding groom, identified as Said Bahaji, as seen in the videotape.
The wedding groom, identified as Said Bahaji, as seen in the videotape.

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Video released by German authorities shows members of al Qaeda cell connected to 9/11, officials say. (May 7)
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(CNN) -- A videotape obtained by CNN shows 9/11 hijackers and suspected plotters attending a wedding reception in Hamburg, Germany, two years before the terrorist attacks on the United States.

The tape offers a rare, inside look at behavior among members of an al Qaeda terrorist cell in Hamburg thought to be behind the 2001 attacks, German authorities said.

The video -- received by CNN on Tuesday -- shows a reception at the October 1999 wedding of Said Bahaji, who is wanted by German authorities for suspected involvement in the attacks. He is believed to have fled to Pakistan shortly before they occurred, and is still at large.

At one point on the 30-minute tape, a wedding guest -- Ramzi Binalshibh -- speaks out against Israel and, in a possible reference to the attacks, says, "We are still in Arabic class and, at the end of the class, there will be a test and the test is the meal, God willing. There will be those who pass and those who fail."

Binalshibh is accused of helping to coordinate the attacks as a leader of the cell. He was captured in Karachi, Pakistan, on September 11, 2002. Binalshibh was named as a member of the cell by Mounir el Motassadeq, a Moroccan convicted in February of being an accessory to the attacks.

The video shows that Bahaji had a personal link with members of the cell, German authorities said.

Two September 11 hijackers -- Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah -- are also seen at the reception, with the others. Al-Shehhi hijacked United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the World Trade Center. Jarrah was one of the hijackers on United Airlines Flight 93, which slammed into a field in Pennsylvania.

In the video, al-Shehhi chants with other wedding guests. He is wearing a full beard, unlike his clean-shaven appearance when he arrived in the United States for the hijackings. U.S. authorities believe he shaved before entering the country to more easily blend in with crowds.

A man identified as Ramzi Binalshibh appears on the tape making a possible reference to 9/11.
A man identified as Ramzi Binalshibh appears on the tape making a possible reference to 9/11.

Also on the reception tape is Mamoun Darkanzanli, who has been under investigation by German police for allegedly funneling money to al Qaeda. He denies any involvement in the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Mohamed Atta -- believed by the FBI to be the leader of the September 11 attacks -- could not be seen in the video, but investigators believe he was present at the wedding. Atta is said to be pictured in a still photograph from the event.

Germany's chief federal prosecutor has said that Bahaji and Atta once shared a Hamburg apartment, and that Bahaji studied electronics at the same Hamburg technical college as both Atta and al-Shehhi.

The video was obtained by a law firm working on behalf of attack victims and was given to the firm by German authorities. The tape will be valuable to lawyers for victims' families in their suit against alleged terrorists, including Bahaji, if he is captured, the attorneys said.

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