WASHINGTON — Appealing to the public for help in tracking down terrorists, the Justice Department released videos and photos of five suspected members of al-Qaida, including one shown cradling a rifle and a Yemeni man who authorities believe was supposed to take part in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The tapes were released without sound, but Attorney General John Ashcroft said they showed "martyrdom messages from suicide terrorists." He urged anyone who has seen the men to call the FBI or an American consulate, saying they are "suspected of planning additional attacks against innocent civilians."
The videotapes were recovered recently in Kabul, Afghanistan, from the rubble of the home of Mohammad Atef, believed to have been Osama bin Laden's military chief. Officials say Atef was killed by a U.S. airstrike in November.
U.S. intelligence officials helped recover the tapes, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The sound was left out of the released versions to guard against the possibility that the messages contained signals for other terrorists, officials said.
In one video, a man buries his head in his arms for a moment. The next image is of the same man, eyes closed, hugging a rifle. He leans his face close to the barrel, his lips appearing to touch it. He then looks up and smiles.
The rifle strap is inscribed with Arabic writing that the man seems to be showing off. Officials did not transcribe the message.
Ashcroft said preliminary translations of statements from the men indicated they may have been trained and prepared for attacks.
A law enforcement source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the men did not specify what would be attacked, used anti-American rhetoric and spoke of a hatred of "infidels."
Authorities don't know where the men are or whether they were killed in the bombing raids. There is no evidence they ever entered the United States; the Atta associate tried to enter the country three times last year but was unsuccessful.