The Emir Of Afghanistan, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam

Adam Fitzgerald
22 min readMay 17, 2020

During the fall in November Al Sila Al Harithya, located in the northern West Bank of Jordan, the farmlands can be lush with produce as the warm climate saturates the fields. It can produce and give the landscape a flowing wave of green. On November 14th 1941 Abdullah Yusuf Azzam would be born. The mother, Zakiya Sadih Musayn al-Ahmad was from a farming family in Al Sila while the father, Yusuf Mustafa Yusuf Azzam was also a farmer as well as a butcher. The village was under British rule during this period and often met with light resistance from Mujahedin. The British had unjustly suspected Yusuf has holding secret meetings with local Mujahid and tried to burn down the Azzam household. This would witness Yusuf to now take up arms against his foreign occupiers, it was the first time the young Abdullah saw his father in an armed struggle, it would shape his young life forever forward.

November 29th 1947 the United Nations General Assembly would approve for a partition plan for Palestine this prompted on Rebellion by Arab Palestinians. By May 14th 1948, Israel would declare independence. Leading Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state by entering an armed conflict in which you would fail. In 1949 the Armistice agreement would begin creating the borders for Israel. The Haganah, a Zionist paramilitary organization would begin displacing over 700,00 Palestinians. Most fleeing to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the local mosque in Al Sila, Azzam would notice many foreigners from Syria and Iraq, would hold meetings here to help the Palestinian struggle. He also noted that many of them were not “very religious” at all. Azzam would later note that “true Islam” would not enter the battle of 1948.

The Muslim Brotherhood had begun participating in the 1948 War, this was seen as a noble act by many in the region. Azzam was deeply religious even at age eight, his religiosity was unusual during the 1950s and 60s. Arab nationalism was dominant ideologically thru-ought the Arab world. 1954 Azzam with join the Muslim Brotherhood into Jordanian branch. Their beliefs were to influence Islamic society through education and grassroots activism. One of the leading members was Assad Abd al-Hadi, who would have a major influence thru-ought Azzam’s young life. al-Hadi would encourage Azzam to speak before people and soon Azzam would start giving short lectures. Azzam had been an ardent student in Islamic law and the Quran. He would often spend many long hours into the evening reading the Quran over the years.

By 1960 he would become a teacher in the remote area of Adir, Jordan. By 1962, he would enroll at the faculty of sharia at Damascus University where he would marry his love, Samira Abdallah Awatila. Where they born 3 sons and 5 daughters over the course of the relationship. In 1966, Azzam would graduate from Damascus University while Israel would militarily occupy Al Sila, Azzam’s home. Forcibly evicted from his land, the Azzam family, like many others, would enter the West Bank. This would be the last time he would have set foot in Palestine ever again. Azzam was officially a refugee.

This would help shape has Azzam’s political mindset from this point forward. Thru the forced eviction of his home, in which over the course of his life he would never have a true home where he could raise his family in. By June 5th 1967, the countries of Egypt, Syria and Jordan would try to invade Israel in hopes of overthrowing its Nationalist government. It failed. The effects of the “Six Day War” would forever be felt thru-ought the Arab world. The defeat helped to delegitimize Arab republics in secular ideologies. As during this period, Arab Nationalism was the prominent ideology in the Arab world. The loss was pivotal and helped to give rise to transnational Islamism. Replacing secular Arab Nationalism over the next 15 years. Islamism began to attract many looking for a new beginning, as Israeli occupation of more Arab land and increase suffering of the Palestinian people witnessed the suffering if the Islamic people as a symbol. The war also displaced Palestinians as over 300,000 left for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Azzam always felt the jihad and Palestine was first and foremost a religious duty.. He believed all Arabs who are able should fight against Israeli occupation, as Azzam believed Arab rulers exploited Palestine for popularity. Azzam despised the Palestinian Liberation Organization as he saw them as a socialist ideology, yet held Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood in a more beneficial respect due to their goal of spreading Islamic school of thought. One of his primary influencers was Sayyid Qutb from Egypt. A Brotherhood member, whom had written many books that included the spread of Islamism to Arab republics and inviting Muslims abroad to live in Arab lands due to the poisonous influence of Western Democracy, in which he saw as an affront to Islam itself.

Sayyid Qutb

Muhammad Abd al-Rahman a leading member of the Muslim Transnational movement of the Brotherhood became impressed with Azzam over the years. He would take Azzam to many countries where he would hold lectures, while learning how to conduct speaking engagements before large crowds.

Secular Arab governments such as Syria and Egypt would start cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt 1965, saw President Gamal Nasser begin cracking down on thousands of Muslims as many were arrested and tortured in Egyptian prisons. Another event that took place in the young Azzam’s life would be the execution of one of his earliest influencers, Sayyid Qutb. Egyptian authorities had arrested Qutb, as he was suspected of plotting a coup against the Egyptian government. On August 29th 1966, Sayyid Qutb was executed by hanging, his death would reverberate thru-ought the Islamic world. He was immediately considered a “martyr” and his authored books became the primary reading material over the next 40 years. Azzam was crushed by this crime of the Egyptian Government and dedicated to fight against secular Arab Nationalism by giving Dawah (calling Muslims back to the purer form of religion practiced by Muhammad and the early Muslim community) to anywhere he preached.

The Fedayeen refer to various military groups willing to sacrifice themselves for a larger campaign, in this context, to Islam. These sects were beginning to prop up in countries like Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. A revitalization of new Islamic thought was beginning to take place over Arab Nationalism, after the loss during the six day war, many Arabs saw secular ideology as being the reason for the loss during the conflict. By March 1968, the Feyadeen began embarking on a guerilla conflict located on the Jordanian-Israeli border, which saw casualties on both sides, but mainly against the mighty Israeli IDF. The Feyadeen insurgents received training and weapons from Egypt and Syria. The Feyadeen however were mainly “Leftists”, an ideology Azzam was pronounced against.

During Azzam’s time in Jordan he would witness clashes between the Feyadeen and the Islamists. The conflicts would attract attention from the Jordanian government led by King Hussein. In 1970, Azzam would begin holding lectures at mosques in Irbin, Jordan which would be highly critical of communism. King Hussein tolerated the Islamists for fear of internal retribution which would harm his citizenry. However by September 1970, that would change. The Feyadeen insurgents began a series of assassination attempts on Hussein, while hijacking four airliners at the Dawson Field airstrip, the Popular Liberation Front for Palestine were the primary adversaries who campaigned what is now known as “Black September”.

King Hussein Of Jordan

At the same time Azzam was highly critical of the governments of Jordan and Syria with their reputation for cracking down on Palestinian youth. Azzam came away impressed by the Muslim youth who participated in the Israeli conflict. Azzam needed the right opportunity to give them a real motivation for religious jihad, which would come in a future date. One that would be entirely unexpected. In 1967 Azzam moves to the town of Baha in Southwest Saudi Arabia. He was offered a position at a local Institute for religious sciences, the Al Mahad Al Ilmi. These schools were to bring Wahhabi principles to local provinces. It was not uncommon for Muslim brothers from the Levant to teach at these universities It was here that Azzam became exposed to Hambali Wahhabism.

Salafis are literal not pragmatic, they view themselves after the Salaf who were predecessors of the earliest Muslims, they are also less politically motivated. By 1971 Azzam movies to Cairo, Egypt to receive a doctorate in Islamic law at Al Azhar University. Anwar Sadat is now the president of Egypt, unlike Nasser he was quite liberal to Islamism. Sadat began releasing most of the Muslim Brotherhood members from labor camps. With most senior members freed by 1974 the Muslim Brotherhood rebounded. At the end of 1972, Azzam had finished his thesis at Al Azhar University and passed with the highest possible grade, During his time here, Azzam forged many friendships, some that would help shape the latter part of his life.

During the course of his stay in Egypt, Egyptian intelligence had closely monitored Azzam while in Cairo. In 1973 Azzam returned to Amman, Jordan where he would become a teacher of Islamic law at the University of Jordan. He was an exceptional speaker as many from neighboring schools came to listen to him. His home would become a public setting as many students from his university would come and visit him. Azzam’s ability to reach the Islamic youth would pay off in the future. He was called the “Sayyid Qutb of Jordan”, high praise which humbled Azzam, as he considered Qutb the primary influence of his life. Azzam had also quickly risen in the Jordanian Brotherhood and was selected in the group’s consultative Council, the “Masjid al-Shura”, a governing body of 40 members.

The Brotherhood was actively against the leftists and King Hussein was ever grateful as he considered the leftists, the Feyadeen the enemy. Hussein tolerated the “Qutbists” for now. Azzam accepted that Muslims living under non-religious governments should be motivated to push Dawah. During the 1970s Azzam would travel around the world. Young Islamists were now studying at foreign universities, doing lectures and so forth, Islamism was now on the rise. In 1975 during Hajj, Azzam was invited to speak at the Council of the Great Scholars, about the dangers of polytheism in the form of man-made legislation. As Muhammad Ibn Al-Wahab had fought against grave worshipping, so should the Muslims against man made laws he declared.

Azzam would begin criticizing the Jordanian government in 1978 as being too “unislamic”, accusing the government as not being very much interested in the Palestinian struggle. Jordan would begin cracking down on Islamist speaking engagements, the Muslim Brotherhood may have pushed Azzam out of Jordan since they had a tentative relationship to operate freely. Azzam had written a document in 1980 complaining to the Shura council about the Muslim Brotherhood and himself, that he felt excluded from activities and ignored in his meetings. However he still would display loyalty to the Brotherhood.

As fate would befall Azzam again in 1980, a letter was received, it came from a Muslim Brotherhood professor in Egypt. Mohammed al-Muslib had invited Azzam to come to Saudi Arabia and teach at the prestigious Abd Al-Aziz University at its faculty of sharia. Azzam and his family desperately needed financial stability and accepted this offer without hesitation. Pan Islamism, a strand of Islamism aimed at promoting Muslim solidarity was beginning to take shape ion Western Saudi Arabia. Just 13 years ago, Azzam was first introduced to Wahhabi ideology while teaching here at the Al Mahad Al Ilmi. He never forgot the lesson. Pan Islamism was motivated by three basic ideas.

All Muslims are one people.
The Muslim world are under assault by non-Muslim forces.
Muslims in different countries should help one another.

Pan Islamism began with the regional and domestic Saudi political developments under the promotion of Wahhabi ideology. The Muslim World League, a Pan-Islamic non-profit organization (NGO) based in Mecca, Saudi Arabia that aims to clarify the true message of Islam by advancing moderate values, played a major role. During the 1970’s Islamic charities grew and the Gulf oil boom gave the Muslim community large funding opportunities. While living in Jeddah, Azzam had published many works. It was during his teaching studies at the Abd Al-Aziz University, that another prominent figure would become influenced by Azzam’s lectures. Osama Bin Laden, a young Saudi and son to Mohammad bin Awad Bin Laden the construction magnate to the largest construction firm in Saudi Arabia, Saudi BinLaden Group. Bin Laden enrolled at King Aziz University to achieve his Bachelors at Business Administration. However he would often times sit down while Azzam taught Islamic Law, he quickly became enamored at his lessons.

Azzam however became quickly transfixed at joining a true Islamic jihad. Fate once again would be fall Azzam. This time from a letter which came from another Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member, Kamal al-Satnaniri. Who enticed Azzam to join a conflict taking place in Afghanistan.

“Abdullah, your place is there, not here. Pack your bags and trust in God.”

Azzam gave some thought to the proposal, al-Satnaniri promised to meet Azzam there, which prompted Azzam to indulge the offer. By September 1981, Azzam had flown to Islamabad International Airport. Not knowing that al-Satnaniri had been arrested shortly after by Egyptian authorities, and jailed, he was killed under the excessive use of torture. Azzam however would take residency with Abd Rabib Rasul Sayyaf, the legend of Peshawar and leader of the Northern Alliance. Sayyaf had known Azzam from previously learning about Azzam while he held lectures at Cairo. Sayyaf allowed Azzam family to stay at his large farming home in Peshawar and told Azzam about the demise of al-Satnaniri. One of his neighbors was a prominent Saudi official, Muhammad Salim al-Hamud whom collaborated with Azzam about Jihad projects in Peshawar. However Azzam needed to find a place if employment, and was given an offer to teach the faculty of sharia at the University of Islamabad.

Abdul Rasul Sayyaf

Many foreign fighters would begin travelling to Pakistan to join the fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Many leading Afghan leaders of the Mujahidin would begin travelling to the Gulf to garner support of the conflict. One such Mujahid leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, founding leader of the Haqqani Network, would begin sending representatives to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to establish information offices. Afghan Mujahidin also began publishing many works and publications to spread the message of an Islamic awakening. One of the very first groups to respond to the conflict were the “Pan Islamists”. They responded primarily due to the enemy being a secular invader committing human atrocities on Islamic lands against the Islamic people. Following them were Saudi and Gulf donors, whom responded to the Mujahid message. Wealthy Gulf Arabs had traveled to Pakistan to give money to relief workers of the Mujahid. Some of the funding went to Lahore and Islamabad, while some of it went to the Jamaat-I-Islami led by Mian Turail Mohammad, with one of these donors being Osama Bin Laden. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, primary leader of Hizb-I-Islami, had the largest community of Mujahedeen out of all the warlords and would also receive funding from not just the Saudis and the Gulf, but also from the CIA, Pakistan ISI and British MI6.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Many Saudi and Gulf donors had come to visit Peshawar to engage with the leading Afghan Mujahid leaders to speak about the future of the conflict.

Yunis Khalis (Hezb-i Islami Khalis)
Abd Rabib Rasul Sayyaf (Ittehad-al-Islami)
Nasrallah Mansour
Muhammad Nabi
Ahmed Gailani (National Islamic Front of Afghanistan)
Sibghatullah Mujaddad (Afghan National Liberation Front)
Burnhamuddin Rabbani (Jamiat-e Islami)
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (Hezb-Islami Hekmatyar)
Jalaluddin Haqqani (Hezb-i Islami Khalis)

The Muslim World League would also send its primary delegation spokesman, Muhammad al-Majdhub along with Saudi donors, but were shocked to witness the internal strife between the warlords regarding financing, logistics and unimportant pettiness. This would leave Azzam totally disengaged with the politics surrounding the Soviet-Afghan conflict, vowing to never engage with the Afghan warlords. This also led to the constant strife and disagreements of having foreign fighters, Arabs, to join and fight alongside the Afghans. They considered them unqualified militarily. However Sayyaf and Haqqani disagreed, and invited Arabs to join with them. Haqqani would become an important ally to Azzam, who was seen as an “outsider”. It was during 1983, that Mustafa Hamid tried to operate a foreign recruitment office called the Global Islamic Office. However Hamid was lacking not just in resources but also financing the operation. Azzam would notice that the Afghan Mujahidin were largely fragmented, due to differences ranging from ideology and strategy, as well as their leaders personalities and ambitions.

Azzam was keen to unite the Afghan Mujahidin.

“I had a passion to unite Hekmatyar and Sayyaf because i saw them as the most honest and able to lead the jihad.”

Meanwhile Pakistan support for the war was of their primary concern that the Soviets would invade them as well. Using the Pakistan ISI to act as a financial conduit and funding them with money and weapons to Peshawar then to Kabul. Pakistan ISI General, Akhar Abdul Rahman and Pakistan ISI Director General, Hamid Gul had deep involvement with the Afghan Mujahidin. With Bin Laden acting as the Saudi Intelligence Directorate (GID) conduit, Bin Laden immersed himself into the conflict, using his fathers company trucks to build roads and ditches, which has risen him in popularity with the Mujahid.

The United States CIA station in Islamabad had also began acting as a conduit for funding the Mujahidin fighters. Although Pakistan ISI would later claim, their involvement was minimal, it would later turn out to be the opposite. By the early 1980’s, many foreign Arabs from the United States and Gulf were descending onto Pakistan, inexperienced and also without proper support for housing and food. Azzam had feared that American NGO’s were trying to “Westernize” Afghanistan and began resenting their presence, Azzam soon began expelling them. American NGO’s began noticing that many of their critiques were Arab foreign fighters, who openly insulted them. Slowly but surely, anti-Americanism was beginning to give rise in the middle of the decade. Azzam meanwhile traveled to Peshawar and lobbied senior Saudi clerics and the Muslim Brotherhood for assistance in the war.

It was during this period that Azzam begun noticing that the Arab foreign fighters were coming in record numbers into Peshawar. His idea was simple, to begin operating an office to properly train and help educate these Mujahid. Azzam traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj, and invited Osama Bin Laden, Wael Juladin and Jamal Khalifa to a meeting, the meeting would be about operating a recruitment office for Arabs. It would be called the Maktab al-Khidamat (Afghan Services Bureau). It would serve two purposes.

To have Arabs serve the Afghan Mujahideen.
To be the starting point for Arabs in the service of Afghans.

The bureau would work in a variety of domains. Logistics, Education and Medical support. Azzam knew Bin Laden had the financial backing to help kick start the operation and plead his case furiously. Bin Laden came away enthusiastically and agreed to help financially support the operation. Azzam had then invited Abdul Rasul Sayyaf to agree to the operation which would take place in his domain, Peshawar. Sayyaf and Bin Laden came to a total agreement. At first the bureau existed in the Muslim Student Union located in the University of Peshawar. This became infeasible due to the constant stream of Arab fighters. Bin Laden then rented a house in Peshawar in November of 1984. The house was named, Abu Hamza Bayt, in honor of an Afghan Mujahid killed while doing a mission in Afghanistan. In 1985, the bureau adds another house, Bayt Abu Uthman. This was used for visiting donors and VIP’s. Bin Laden then sets up another house, Bayt Al Ansar. Then another guest house, Bayt Al Shuhada. By 1988, the Maktab al-Khidamat would have 8 buildings operating within Pakistan.

Osama Bin Laden

Azzam would be named “emir”, leader, of the bureau with Mamduh Mahmud Salim acting as deputy leader “munir”. It would compromise of two committees.

Bureau Committee — Jamaat al-Makab
Consultative Committee — Majis al-Shura

The consultative committee would have as members:

Osama Bin Laden
Wael Juladin
Abu al-Bara
Abu Hudhafa al-Urduni
Nur al-Din
Abu Dawoud al-Urduni
Abu Mudah al-Sharkasi
Abu Hajr al-Iraqi

Soon other committees would help shape the bureau. Consisting of, Reception Committee, Education Committee, Scholars Committee, Orphans & Wives Committee, Medical Committee and the Media Committee.

The bureau would be subsidized anywhere between $200,000-$300,000 dollars annually thru-ought the decade.

Azzam however had a holistic view of the conflict, he believed that education, medical care and logistics were as important as fighting. The bureaus main goal was to help receive Arab volunteers worldwide. Offering them food and accommodations, also to collect valuable information inside Afghanistan.

However running the bureau would become problematic as many employees would be inexperienced and also from all around the world, which would impose bureaucratic problems. By 1985 these internal problems had to be dealt with immediately as it threatened the existence of the operation. Many meetings between the deputy leaders and committee leaders addressed many of the problems facing the bureau. Thus saving the base of operations for the time being by replacing many high ranking leaders. The Maktab al-Khidamat however played a major role in the mobilization of Arabs during the war.

Azzam would begin lecturing recruits and sought to solicit donations and raise awareness. Azzam specified that preachers were important “for the spirit of fighting and self sacrifice.”

Azzam would begin travelling, first to Saudi Arabia where he solicited tens of millions from Saudi donors, then by going to Kuwait where he knew a strong Muslim Brotherhood branch existed as well as several charities to openly support the Mujahid. By 1987, Azzam traveled to the United States and spoke at the Muslims Arab Youth Association in Kansas City and Detroit. Azzam’s lectures began circulating in tapes thru-ought the world, especially in Southeast Asia. He was a fantastic orator and energy driven speaker always wearing his traditional Afghan clothing and parkol hat. However during his lectures Azzam’s audience were left to decipher what “Mujahedin” actually meant. According to Tamin al-Adnani, a Palestinian who traveled to the U.S alongside Azzam, the Americans had interpreted Azzam’s use of Mujahidin.

“I notice that some people in America misunderstand the word Mujaheddin. They have had bad information or bad understanding of that word. They think Mujahedin are people who attack people or hijack planes, aircraft like those who hijack the Kuwait aircraft. We are against this completely. This is not jihad. This is nonsense. Jihad is fighting for the sake of Allah to protect our religion. Those who are doing hijackings it’s completely against Islam.”

However Azzam often times breached his own rules of conduct during war. If non-combatants mingled with the enemy, all are to be killed. In 1988 Azzam gave a lecture at a mosque in California.

Q: Is it permissible to take revenge on American Jews present in America give the verse “Kill them wherever you find them?”

A: Of course it is permissible.

Azzam had hoped after the war, that Afghanistan would be set up as an Islamic state, which would be used as a military base for an Islamic army to recapture all of the lost Islamic territories and unit them as a transnational caliphate. Azzam wanted an immediate and comprehensive militaristic response to liberate Afghanistan and Israel (Palestine). He was also hostile toward secular Arab governments. Although he was positive toward the Saudi Kingdom, he was apprehensive as well.

During the middle period of the 1980’s he had close affiliations with Takfiri’s, radical Arabs and saw secular Arab leaders as infidels, as he began closely embracing Wahhabi Islam. The school of thought that he learned while living in Saudi Arabia. While he did espouse anti-Western views, he was quite adamant about disallowing violence against the West as well. He stated that Islam and Judeo-Christianity are in a never ending conflict. Azzam was convinced that the United States was trying to weaken Afghanistan so they could not move on to Palestine. Even thou the Afghan Mujahidin were quite thankful to the West for it’s support.

Even thou Azzam was known as the “Alim Mujahid” , Islamic Scholar of Jihad fighting at heart, he considered that spiritual preparation was a prerequisite for success in battle. Afghan Arabs whom were pragmatic, disagreed with Azzam. They did not share Azzam’s view of a spiritual conflict. Azzam was not favored by the Arab foreign fighters who saw the conflict in militaristic terms. By 1985, when Abu Hajir al-Iraqi took over as executive director of the bureau. He tried to understand the view of Arabs and beefed up military portfolio. Bin Laden was one of the more prominent foreign fighters who grew restless of Azzam’s view of the war and was visually seen on the front lines against the Soviets in the battlefield. Bin Laden and al-Iraqi wanted to use the bureau to become more aggressive militarily.

Together, Bin Laden and Abu Hajir al-Iraqi developed the Sada Camp. Bringing in Abd al-Aziz Ali, Ali Mohamed, Abu Burhan al-Suri (Syrian Muslim) to begin military training. The Sada camp’s main fiction was to serve as a boot camp for new recruits. At about this time another individual began his travel to Peshawar, who fled Egyptian persecution and imprisoned torture. Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician, and leading member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad came to offer his skills as a doctor to wounded Mujahid. He started his services at the Red Crescent in Kuwait. He would have a major influence to not just Azzam, but to Osama Bin Laden as well.

Ayman al-Zawahiri

By 1986, Bin Laden and Abu Ubaydah al-Banshiri traveled to Afghanistan ti begin locating new prospects for a training camp. They found a potential spot in the Northern Patkia Province. The camp would be named by Bin Laden, it was called Al Masada (Lion’s Den). The camp specifically resided in Jaji, Patkia Province. Joining the camp were some of Bin Laden’s closest associates from Egypt and Saudi Arabia in, Abu Ubaydah al-Banshiri, Aby Khaled al-Masri, Abu Hajir al-Iraqi. By February 1987, the Al Masada Camp was up and running with al-Banshiri acting as commander and al-Iraqi as it’s chief instructor. Arabs at Al Masada became more “hard-line”. Most of the prominent members would later become the founding members of Al Qaeda.

Early documents about the formation of Al Qaeda are from the Tareekh Osama and Tareekh Musadat collections. They contain scanned documents from Bin Laden’s inner circle from 1987. They were found by Bosnian authorities in 2002 in the Sarajevo office of the Benevolent International Foundation, an Islamic charity with links to Bin Laden. These documents would later become public knowledge during the trial of Enaam Aranout, a Syrian American who pleaded guilty to using charitable donations to support fighters in Bosnia without the knowledge of his donors. There were three factors for the emergence of Al Qaeda.

The demand of high quality military training from Afghan Arabs.
The victorious battle of Jaji.
Running Al Masada as a proto-organization.

Al Qaeda “The Base” short hand for “The People Associated With The Base”

According to the Tareekh Osama “August 11 Document”, notes taken from August 11, 1988, a meeting between Abu Rida al-Suri and an unknown sheikh, the agenda was “The shaping of the new military work”. A three tier training system consisting of a general camp, a special camp and a base.

Tarheekh Osama Documents

The major early influences for the formation of Al Qaeda were the following:

Osama Bin Laden
Abu Ubaydah al-Banshiri
Jamal al-Fadl
Abu Ayyub al-Iraqi
Abu Hafs al-Masri
Abu Khalid al-Masri
Abu Hajir al-Iraqi
Mamduh Mahmud Salim

In the beginning, Al Qaeda did not have any clear or objective geopolitical agenda. Thus the movement did not make any declarations against any governments or their secular/religious mindsets. What gave the Bin Laden camp of Al Masada legitimacy, was the Battle of Jalalabad. The Pakistan ISI, along with Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the CIA had pushed the Mujahidin to fight against the Soviets and Afghan nationalists. By allowing imprisoned Mujahid who were in exile in Peshawar to transfer to Jalalabad. The battle was intense, but the push never came. The Afghan Arabs suffered a terrible defeat. Many Afghan Arabs fragmented from the bureau and Al Qaeda. Creating more uncontrolled, impractical core of men who wanted action. They did not care about consequences. Hamid Gul would call them the “Jalalabad school of Jihad” who practiced increased militarism and the total disrespect for authority.

There were theological differences between the Afghans and Salafi Arabs. With Afghans coming from the Hanafi school of thought and the Salafi, the Hambali school of thought. The foreign fighters experience while in Afghanistan came in three life experiences.

Thrills and hardships of military life.
Pleasures of companionship.
Sense of religious purpose.

The Afghan-Soviet war was responsible for creating the “Jihadi culture” which exists still to the present day. In the forms of music and video it exemplifies the nature of a mujahid. Azzam had five main sides which were hostile towards him.

Pakistan government concerned about Afghan Arabs military activities.
Saudi Salafi establishment disliking his Muslim Brotherhood orientation.
Revolutionaries in Peshawar found him “too moderate”.
Allies of Hekmatyar disliked his rapport with Ahmad Shah Massoud.
Israelis became alert to his involvement with the Palestine Intafada.

Azzam had become too obvious in his movements while the end of the Soviet-Afghan conflict came to a head. Numerous associates and even from his family, tried to get Azzam to hire a bodyguard to which Azzam replied that he would rather die a martyr than to become afraid of the world. On November 24, 1989, just as the last of the Soviet trucks began leaving the capitol of Kabul, Abdullah Azzam was with his two sons, Mohammed and Ibrahim in his car, They were off to the Sab al-Layl mosque where Azzam often preached. It was 12:20pm and he was crossing Great Trunk Road and Arbab Road when a roadside bomb was detonated. The bomb was concealed under a small bridge that took cars over a ditch. Two devices, one on each side of the bridge. It killed them immediately and tore the car to pieces.

Azzam’s burial that evening was a major event. Massive outpouring of sympathy even from outside of Pakistan was noted. There were many suspects that were initially blamed, included the CIA, Israeli Mossad, Pakistan ISI, The Revolutionaries in Pakistan as well as the Saudi GID. Even Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who once told false rumors regarding Azzam in his lectures, were blamed for his death as unproven suspicions suggested they wanted to take over the bureau. However within months of his assassination, the Maktab al-Khidamat fell into disarray. Contact with it’s American representative in the United States came to an end, with the unsolved murder of its director, Mustafa Shalabi, the main suspect? Omar Abdel Rahman, who ended up taking over the Al Farouq Mosque. In 1995, the Maktab al-Khidamat closed down permanently. The left over funding which it received had dried up when the Gulf War of 1991 had began.

With Azzam’s death, an increasing growth in Islamic sects began, which lead to the continuing fragmentation of the Afghan and Arab community still seen today. The rise of Islamism can be seen with the inability of Arab governments to include the Islamists in national politics whom began looking to the international stage for operating space. That stage now includes the ongoing conflict between the Secularists, Crusaders and the Jews which allow the Intelligence communities to interfere with all the parties involved to induce and manipulate for geopolitical agendas. Azzam’s words regarding regarding his devotion to jihad in Afghanistan can be read in his quote made while he came to Peshawar in 1981. They would become prophecy, from the man who came all too familiar with fate thru-ought his life.

“Never shall I leave the Land of jihad, except in three circumstances. Either I shall be killed in Afghanistan, killed in Peshawar, or handcuffed and expelled from Pakistan.”



Adam Fitzgerald

Geo-political scientist/researcher into the events of September 11th 2001.