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Al Qaeda tape likely used to rally, recruit

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Officials worry that shopping malls could become terrorism targets during the holidays.
Officials worry that shopping malls could become terrorism targets during the holidays.

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CNN's David Ensor on an al Qaeda Web site with rare footage of the WTC attacks.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An al Qaeda video, which appeared this week on an al Qaeda-affiliated Web site, shows the September 11, 2001, attack on New York's World Trade Center as filmed from an angle sources in Washington said they had not seen before.

FBI officials said they were aware of the video, but declined further comment. It is not clear how al Qaeda obtained it.

According to CNN's translation of the tape, the video is a tribute to Abdul Ilah, identified as "one of the fighters of jihad" who was killed by Saudi special forces on November 26 in his Saudi hometown of Hay al-Suaydi.

The speaker on the video says Ilah fought against U.S. forces and their "collaborators" in Kandahar, Afghanistan, before heading to neighboring Pakistan.

Ilah was taken prisoner by U.S. "secret police" in an unidentified Arab country, according to the narrator.

"What was his crime? That he fought against the Christians," the speaker says.

The video also shows al Qaeda forces training in Afghanistan and another Arab country that is not identified specifically by the narrator. Officials say videos like these are used primarily for recruiting purposes and to rally the troops.

Video adds to terror concerns

The release of the video adds to concern over recent intelligence that has counterterrorism officials increasingly worried about a possible attack against soft targets, such as shopping malls, as the holiday season approaches.

"As recently as two weeks ago, the intelligence community was telling the Homeland Security Department that this felt a lot like the summer of 2001," said Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official with the National Security Council. "[We're] seeing lots of data, lots of information coming together that paints a very disturbing picture."

A senior U.S. official stressed increased threat information, including Web site activity, is common before and during key holidays. The problem is separating the legitimate intelligence from the rest.

There were several warnings of possible attacks in the United States in October that never panned out. Also, officials say the terror movement is more scattered and harder to track.

Homeland Security officials say they will not raise the national threat level unless they receive more concrete information.

If the al Qaeda terrorist network were to strike the United States again, some officials expect the attack will be much bigger than recent strikes overseas.

"The terror movement will always reserve the biggest and the most spectacular attacks for the U.S. and for U.S. interests," said M.J. Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Institute in London.

"Each of these groups are autonomous with their own leadership, with their own funding, their own personnel," Gohel said. "And they have their own plots, as it were. But they're all bonded together by a common ideology."

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