- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 11, 2001

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden appeared happy and smiling at his son's wedding in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar in footage shown yesterday on an Arab satellite channel.

Footage of bin Laden, who usually avoids the spotlight, was broadcast on Qatar's satellite channel, Al-Jazeera. It said the ceremony took place Tuesday and was attended by Afghan officials and Arabs residing in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire dissident, has been indicted by the United States in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 persons. Days after the bombings, the United States fired dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles on eastern Afghanistan in retaliation.

Guests at the wedding included Ayman Zawahiri, leader of Egypt's Jihad, a militant group blamed for the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, the TV station reported. Zawahiri, who was sentenced to death in absentia for masterminding murders and terrorist attacks in Egypt in the 1990s, is known to be close to bin Laden and is believed to have lived in Afghanistan for years.

The station said speeches at the wedding referred to the Palestinian uprising against Israel and that Zawahiri was the first to speak.

Wearing a traditional white Arab robe and headdress, the bridegroom, Mohammed bin Laden, was shown on a carpet flanked by his father, wearing a white turban, and another man believed to be Abu Hafas Masri, an Egyptian who fought with Osama bin Laden in the 1980s against Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Two masked bodyguards stood in the background.

Contrary to reports last year that he had kidney and liver disease, a beaming and bearded bin Laden appeared healthy in the footage.

The younger bin Laden wed al-Masri's daughter, Al-Jazeera reported, without giving her name. The bride and the groom both were born in Pakistan when their fathers were fighting in Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera said. It did not give their ages.

The Taleban, Afghanistan's hard-line Muslim leadership, has refused to surrender Osama bin Laden to the United States, saying Washington has not provided proof of his guilt and that it's against Afghan tradition to hand over a guest to his enemies.

Last month, the United Nations imposed new sanctions on the Taleban regime to press demands that it hand over bin Laden for trial in the United States or a third country.

Earlier this week, a key suspect facing trial in the deadly attack on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden reportedly told authorities he believes the suicide bombers were acting on the orders of Osama bin Laden. The bombing of the Navy vessel killed 17 Americans.

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