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Video shows bin Laden with terrorist leader

DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- Al-Jazeera television has shown footage of two of the most wanted men by the Western world -- suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, standing side-by-side, at a unification ceremony of their terror groups.

The video shows bin Laden, escorted by masked guards, in a hillside tent compound at an undisclosed location with Ayman al-Zawahiri, his number two man and the head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a radical Islamic militant group blamed for the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

Al Qaeda's military commander, Mohammed Atef, also is seen in the video.

Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar and is considered the most widely watched cable network in the Arab world, said the celebration marked the unification of al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. It also celebrated the graduation of new al Qaeda fighters.

During the celebration, the masked guards fired their weapons into the air and sang militant songs in Arabic.

U.S. embassy bombings

Egyptian Islamic Jihad has worked with bin Laden's al Qaeda network since the early 1990s and, according to U.S. authorities, has been a major player in all of al Qaeda's terrorist operations. Al-Zawahiri has been indicted in the United States in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Al-Jazeera got the tape Thursday in its Kabul, Afghanistan, office. It claimed the video was taken in recent weeks. However, it is unclear whether the tape was shot before or after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

In the past, bin Laden has appeared with his top lieutenants before any major terrorist action. For example, before the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, a photo of bin Laden in Africa was released.

In Washington, the Bush administration has put pressure on the government of Qatar to rein in al-Jazeera for what the U.S. believes is unbalanced reporting and encourages anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.

Frank exchange

Secretary of State Colin Powell met Wednesday with the Emir of Qatar whose government currently holds the presidency of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. President Bush met with the emir Thursday.

The Bush administration wants Qatar to use its influence with the cable network. U.S. officials complained the station continues to run an old television interview with bin Laden and has invited anti-American guests on the air who have argued U.S. international policy was to blame for the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"We had a frank exchange," one U.S. official said. "There should have been no mistake of where we are coming from."



 
 
 
 



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