The Takfir Movement In Afghanistan, Egyptian Islamic Jihad’s Influence For International Terrorism

Adam Fitzgerald
27 min readNov 27, 2020


The roaring, earth digging activity of the dirt excavator, is an unmistakable sight and sound. It digs deep within the earth’s top soil and creates a ditch in which the inner fresh dirt waits to receive a new use, a new future. Osama Bin Laden’s future lay here, building ditches for the Afghan mujahid, as he personally operates the excavator. Constructing roads for their vehicles, which can then travel to the city of Gardez, or to the province of Khost and if need be, Peshawar for reinforcements. Untouched earth, waiting for a renewal, just as Bin Laden while attending King Abdulaziz University in Riyadh. His mind was fresh, like the Afghan soil, unmoved by any outside influences.

His direction laid in his father’s construction firm, The Saudi BinLaden Group, that was until the Soviet military invaded Kabul on December 24, 1979. The period of soviet-communism, and even years prior, pan Arab socialism, left Afghanistan in a state of inward turmoil. The country was a compliment to travelers under the Republic led by Mohammed Daoud Khan. Khan was a reformist as well as a pragmatist. He would end up expelling King Zahir Shah in a bloodless coup, which was supported by a large percentage of the national army. Under the leadership of Khan, his goal was to lean away from pro-communist influences, and shied away from pro-soviet politics. It gave the country a sense of “modernization” that once existed under Zahir Shah, for the last 25 years.

That period of reformation even assimilated the Afghan police force, which in 1977, Khan had signed a co-operative military treaty with Egypt and their security service, the brutal Mabahith Amn El Dawla (State Security Investigation Service). Khan now had a repressive state law enforcement service. However, the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) held a wide sway of political influence with the “reformists” in Kabul, the nation’s capitol. It led to a coup against Khan, who was assassinated after the mass arrests of Muhmmad Nur Taraki, with Babrak Karmal fleeing to the USSR. Khan was killed by the PDPA. The communist take over had begun. With the country under full invasion in 1979 by the Soviet military after short stinted leaderships of Hafizullah Amin and Muhammad Nur Taraki, the Pashtun uprising led to the world’s Muslim population under notice.

As the Afghan and Arab populace began to descend to Peshawar and then to Kabul, the Maktab al-Khidamat an office for Mujahid to register and train under the tutelage of notable Afghan and foreign leaders such as Abdullah Anas, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf (Tanzim-e Dahwat-e Islami-ye Afghanistan) and Abdullah Azzam (the founder of MAK), the need for proper training was imperative. Time was not a luxury here. With Kabul firmly under the control of Babrak Karmal, the Soviet backed Afghanistan President, the PDPA and the Soviet military, the Afghan Mujahid literally had little to no chance at the odds of repelling the secular invaders.

Bin Laden, the soft spoken Saudi noticed the MAK had begun, with his finances, to prosper and bring foreign Arabs into the conflict. Foreign Arabs began to enter Peshawar, Egyptians, Algerians, Lebanese, Jordanians. However, it was the Egyptian prisoners from the Tora prison, those who were suspected by the SSI of being involved with Anwar Sadat’s assassination that came to the mountainous commute of Pakistan’s Peshawar. Ayman al-Zawahiri (Islamic Jihad) and Sayyed Imam al-Sharif (Dr.Fadl), were considered “takfiris” (Muslims who label other Muslims as “non-Muslims” or apostates).

“When Ayman met bin Laden, he created a revolution inside him.” (Montasser al-Zayat, lawyer, author “The Road to Al Qaeda”)

New recruits to the MAK offices recruitment building, were to fill out forms, agreeing to a list of regulations and requirements, then they are moved to a guesthouse and wait for appropriate training. Bin Laden however became enamored with the Egyptians, especially al-Zawahiri. The takfiris were far more fervent in their brand of religion than the Pashtuns, like Abdul Rasul Sayyaf or Burhanuddin Rabbani. However it was thru Sayyaf and Jalaluddin Haqqani that went against their Afghan traits, as most won’t accept Arabs into their ranks. They did. Thus, their number swelled. Bin Laden began constructing a camp of his own, no camp had an Arab lead it, and Bin Laden asked for Sayyaf’s permission and help in detailing armed security.

The camp, Al Masada (Lion’s Den), located in the Paktia Province was to be the first truly Arab camp. It would be the base of operations for foreign Arabs but not just any Arab could join. The recruits were Egyptian military officers, and Arab fundamentalists from the Hanbali school of thought (Wahhabi). They were to pledge “bayat” (loyalty) to Bin Laden as it’s true emir. Here these selected recruits would train for guerrilla operations. Azzam’s MAK offices would become too spiritual, and Bin Laden with the manipulating al-Zawahiri and Dr. Fadl always with Bin Laden separated from Azzam.

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif (Dr.Fadl)

The Al Masada base went by another name, which wouldn’t have implications until many years later, Al Qaeda. The aims of Al Qaeda were to:

Establish truth
Get rid of evil
Establish an Islamic nation

In 1988, Al Qaeda penned a charter, which was to “spread the sentiment of Jihad” and “educate the cadre”. Bin Laden would later say of their mission:

“Our intention is to expel the infidels from the lands of Islam and to expel their agents and in thick ruins and on the ruins of their agents, establish the truth and establish Islam and establish the religion.”

Al Masada (Al Qaeda) was initially founded to be an elite combat unit that would serve as an example and inspiration to Afghan guerrillas. Created simply to become a vanguard that would inspire and entice Muslims to fight. It’s method was to establish bases on Afghan territory and to participate in guerrilla fighting in Afghanistan only. In 1986, Bin Laden had an idea of constructing a base which had a strategic and direct sight to a Soviet base (Ali Kiel). Which was next to a strategically important area, the Parehimar-Gardez highway. Two men sent by Bin Laden, known only as Azmari and Sharfiq, located a site where construction could begin. The contributions of the Arabs at Al Masada consolidated Bin Laden status as a military leader of the Arabs and paved way for the establishment of Al Qaeda. Independent of the MAK offices.

Meanwhile, Bin Laden ordered the Al Masada camp to be evacuated, but a small band of Arabs refused to leave. The Soviet Spetsnaz, the special forces of the military, 15th Spetsnaz Brigade conscript descended on the camp which were lacking in not just numbers, but also military armaments. The small rag tag Arabs from Al Masada however, ended up meeting them in battle. The uprising was met, face to face, where 25 Spetsnaz were killed…..most, by hand. The resounding miracle, echoed all thru-ought of the valleys of Afghanistan. The legend of Al Masada and the Arabs grew exponentially.

Al Qaeda, the base…..was born

With the defeat, the Soviets abandoned the Ali Kiel fort, while Al Masada relocated to Nangarhar, 342 kilometers west of Patkia. Here, Bin Laden would construct bases between the years of 1989–1991. Training camps built for specialized guerrilla training and observation posts. The numbers swelled, especially after the latest victory, and the optimism surrounding the Lion’s Den. 1989 would be an important year for Al Qaeda. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed known as Fadil Harun, would become a focal point for the organization’s early formative years. Harun, from the Comoros Islands in Southwest Africa, came to the group and asked to participate in the pushback of the communist forces in Kabul. However, Harun was tasked to its development office.

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (Fadil Harun)

By the spring of 1991, Al Qaeda leadership would begin construction of the Jihad Wal training camp located in Khost. Controlled by Afghan warlord Fayz Muhammad, from the Hezb-i-Islami, headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. As long as the Arabs had camps, they needed Afghan authority to build and run them. Bin Laden knew about the tribal aspects of the Afghans, and even thou they tentatively welcomed the Arab foreign fighters, they still had to be the reigning authority. Bin Laden along with Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri, an Egyptian military leader who was not much in the “takfiri” camp at first, helped to construct two more camps. Al Farouq and Al Siddig. These camps were mainly for frontline fighting for guerrilla warfare training. Al-Banshiri was the most experienced and mentally thorough commander in Al Qaeda. Respected for his military acumen, and awareness, he was the military commander for the group.

Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri

There would be no rest in between the tumultuous weeks. An important battle would also take place in the early weeks of July 1990, “the battle of Khost” which saw the Arabs once again prove their mettle. The media ran the story almost immediately. The Soviets, once again, had lost to their Arab adversaries, thru a prolonged battle. By March 1991, the Soviets were repelled by not just Al Qaeda, but forces from Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani. Khost which was besieged under war for the last 11 years, had saw the final battle involving a foreign invader.

“Moslem guerrillas surrounding the southern Afghanistan city of Khost have repulsed Soviet reinforcements trying to break the siege, Western diplomats said Tuesday. The guerrillas have encircled government troops in the city and are using unexploded rockets as mines and shooting down helicopters, said the diplomats.”

It was a battle which cemented the “legend” of Al Qaeda, in Pakistan. The Arabs, small in number, were repelling the Soviet remnants inside the country. But how would they fare against the Karmal-communist backed Afghan military?

Bin Laden meanwhile, returned to his native Riyadh, and met with the most principal members of the Saudi Kingdom regarding the looming threat of the Ba’athist Iraqi army, who had invaded neighboring Kuwait. The offer from Bin Laden which involved using the Mujaheddin to fight against the Iraqi military, was flatly rejected, and Bin Laden was put under house arrest. He would then be given an ultimatum, leave the country and have your passport and assets returned or remain under arrest. In 1992, Bin Laden along with the Egyptian takfiris, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sayyed Imam al-Sharif found solace in the Sudan, under the guidance of Hassan al-Turabi, leader of the National Islamic Front, the African version of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some Al Qaeda members who traveled with Bin Laden, began operating guerrilla training camp operations in Khartoum, under the tutelage of Abu Ubaidah al-Banshiri and Abu Hafs al-Masri.

al-Masri was a former Egyptian police officer, who became a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad before coming to Afghanistan. However al-Masri was under al-Banshiri in terms of Al Qaeda hierarchy. Both men were considered the brains of the early stages of the organization. Some members stayed behind at the Jihad Wal training camp in Khost. Fadil Harun was one of those who stayed behind at the camp and ran the coordination and recruitment sector. With Pakistan and foreign jihadists, who lived in the Nangarhar Province, training at the camp for “classical jihad” or for revolution in their home countries, Harun made sure to responsibly coordinate with recruits and select them for specified training. Some had even traveled to Bosnia to participate in the jihad against the ruling Serbs, which saw a former Mujahid who spent time at Al Masada, Ibn al-Khattab, who would become leader of the Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya.

Abu Hafs al-Masri (Mohammed Atef)

Al Qaeda’s influence would be felt outside of Afghanistan with the Chechen conflict, as al-Khattab’s previous training and affiliations with al-Masri and Bin Laden allowed him to receive Arabs from Al Farouq and Al Siddig. But now there was a different conflict in Afghanistan, as Hekmatyar and the Hizb-i-Islami fought against the Northern Alliance and Ahmed Shah Massoud, along with the Afghan communist army. However Al Qaeda decided under Bin Laden’s authority to not take sides with anyone, and to not become involved with the conflict. Haqqani did not want Arabs to enter the civil war but insisted training should not stop.

The camps were allowed to operate in the Nangarhar Province, under supervision from Fayz Muhammad, Hekmatyar’s supervisor. Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi native, had begun training under Mohamad Elzahabi, a small arms instructor at the Khalden camp. Elzahabi had also trained, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who by this time was just an up and comer, a thug and former pimp who decided to fight against the Afghan communist forces. Both Zubaydah and al-Zarqawi would become “household” names in the intelligence community for they would become suspects in a number of terrorist related incidents.

Abu Zubaydah

Elzahabi would be in a firefight and struck by small arms fire in the stomach. He would leave for the United States in 1995, after staying in Afghanistan for 4 years. Zubaydah meanwhile would begin training at the Al Siddig camp in the cold months of December 1992. In his diary he noted:

“With Al Qaeda in the camps run by Bin Laden”

This would be the earliest example of a non-member using the name, Al Qaeda.

Months previously, Al Qaeda offered assistance to Ayman al-Zawahiri whose EIJ philosophy was vastly different from that of Al Qaeda. EIJ wanted to topple the Egyptian government, Al Qaeda did not want to limit the struggle to one specific territory. EIJ and Al Qaeda would merge in 2001 however, just months prior to the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks. al-Zawahiri had abandoned Egypt and endorsed Bin Laden. The global agenda is what drove EIJ in the years prior to 2001. To train Arab and Afghans in a more refined militant, extremist training, the Egyptians brought in, Ali Mohammed.

Mohammed was a current Fort Bragg U.S Special Forces soldier, who also had been an informant for the CIA and FBI. His loyalties were to Bin Laden and Omar Abdel Rahman from Al Gamma Islammiyah. Mohammed began training Arabs at the Al Siddig camp for small arms fire and explosives. He also trained Arabs at the Jihad Wal. Mohammed had connections to the Masjid al-Farouq mosque in Brooklyn as well as the Masjid al-Salaam in New Jersey, where Rahman preached. The Egyptian takfiris were beginning to reshape the foundation of Al Qaeda, all that was left, was to slowly guide the young, venerable Saudi, Bin Laden.

Regarding al-Zawahiri’s theology and political stance, Al Qaeda focused primarily on guerrilla warfare but also on how to form cells in cities. By 1993, Ali Mohammed would begin training EIJ and Al Qaeda on urban reconnaissance techniques. Learning skills regarding terrorist attacks and assassinations. Now there were two sections of Al Qaeda, one in East Africa training Islamist guerrilla in Khartoum and one in Jihad Wal in Khost, Afghanistan. Slowly, the Al Qaeda group would begin receiving new recruits, who were sent by not just the Egyptians, but from the Saudi’s who sympathized with Bin Laden.

With al-Banshiri in Kenya, al-Masri in Peshawar, the training methods were strict and concise. However al-Masri soon left for Kenya in 1993. With most of Al Qaeda now at this point in East Africa, the Pakistan ISI began to monitor the remaining Arabs in the provinces where they trained. Very few remained in Khost however, with only Abu Ali al-Sharqawi staying behind. al-Sharqawi, a Yemeni, was an associate for Al Qaeda helping them coordinate operations in Khost.

Now, Al Qaeda were also training Tajiks. The Tajiks are Persian speaking peoples from countries such as Uzbekistan, Waziristan, Iran and Afghanistan. They also began supplying them with weapons, this would be the brain child of Mustafa Hamid. The Tajikistan project was carried out in 1993–94. Involved with the project along with Hamid, al-Sharqawi, Zubaydah, Ibn Khattab and Abu Al Hadi al-Iraqi. al-Iraqi was a high ranking commander for Bin Laden, like al-Masri and al-Banshiri, al-Iraqi was known for his military strategy. According to a 2002 U.S State Department wanted poster for al-Iraqi:

“Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi is one of Usama bin Laden’s top global deputies, personally chosen by bin Laden to monitor al Qaeda operations in Iraq. Al-Hadi was the former Internal Operations Chief for al Qaeda. He has been associated with numerous attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and has been known to facilitate communication between al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda. Al-Hadi rose to the rank of Major in Saddam Hussein’s army before moving to Afghanistan to fight against the Soviet Union. He has a reputation for being a skilled, intelligent, and experienced commander and is an extremely well respected al Qaeda leader. He has commanded numerous terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. Al-Hadi is reportedly still in contact with Usama bin Laden.”

The Afghans are from the Hanafi Islamic school of thought, same as the Tajiks. The conservative Gulf Arabs, Salafi, considered Hanafi as apostates, much like the Taliban whom are from the Hanafi clan. This would be the primary belief in Afghanistan after 1996 as the Taliban would become larger and more influential. Even thou there were theological differences, they abated from turmoil. After a few months, Ibn Khattab along with 50 or so recruits left for the Tajikistan conflict against the Soviet backed President Rahmon Nabiyev. However, his base was not successful in dispatching Nebiyev’s communist backed army, and he would relocate to Chechnya. Where he would later have resounding victories over the Serbian forces. By this time, Pakistan under pressure from Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister, to expel Arabs and Egyptians.

The Egyptian government had just signed a formal extradition treaty with Pakistan in 1994. Where a globally wanted terrorist, Abdul Basit Abdul Karim also known as Ramzi Yousef was captured in February of 1995. Yousef was extradited however to the United States, this was considered treason by the Islamists (takfiris) as they wouldn’t have minded if an Islamic court had tried him, but for an Islamic country to hand over “one of their own” to a secular-Zionist supporting nation in the United States… was labeled treasonous. Training camps would now be forced “underground” With only one camp left out in the open, unfazed by the civil war in Kabul or the pressure from the Pakistan government, The Khalden training camp located in the Paktia Province, under the supervision of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.

The U.S special forces led by the Army Ranger division had entered Mogadishu in 1992, and were met by forces under Mohammed Farah Aidid and the Somali National Alliance, which had approximately 4,000 loyal militants. The “battle of Mogadishu” led to Aidid killing 18 U.S servicemen during the 2 day fight. One former Al Qaeda financier, gave testimony in a New York court, testimony which showed individuals like Wadih el-Hage, Ayman al-Zawahiri talking about “jihad” for most of the day, with Bin Laden tentatively sitting outside his home in Khartoum.

Al Qaeda was also responsible for training Aidid’s men for guerilla combat training with the United States special forces on their way. Which also showed the beginning processes of a “terrorist” mindset. With the battle of Mogadishu in its first stages, Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri would meet with other Muslim mujahideen leaders in the Sudan and Afghanistan and deploy strategies in defeating the American troops against Sudan Muslims and the Mogadishu leader of the Somali National alliance, Mohammad Farah Aidid.

In a February 2001 CNN article:

“In 1991, Al-Fadl said he moved with bin Laden to Sudan, where al-Qaeda established a new headquarters, including a farm used in part for military training. He said he earned $300 a month for his al-Qaeda work and $200 a month working for construction and import-export companies bin Laden established. Al-Fadl, in listing numerous people around the offices, named el Hage, known then by the alias “Abu Abdullah al Lubani,” as on the payroll and as someone he had trained to do his job. Bin Laden, at this time, Al-Fadl testified, began to express anti-American views. “He liked to sit in the front yard and talk about jihad,” Al-Fadl said. Al-Fadl said the group’s fatwas, issued by bin Laden and others, did condone the killing of innocents, starting with al-Qaeda’s reaction to the U.S. military presence in Somalia in 1993.”

al-Fadl was a courier for Bin Laden, but ran afoul after spending $110,000 dollars thru his penchant for gambling and other vices. He turned himself in at a U.S embassy and gave “prima facie” evidence about the inner dealings of Al Qaeda to Dan Coleman and Jack Cloonan from the FBI’s counter-terrorism Unit, I-49. Before this, no one in the intelligence field knew anything about Al Qaeda. Jamal al-Fadl was the first Al Qaeda informant, and his testimony before the U.S district courts over the years proved to be, invaluable, no matter how “troublesome” he was.

Jamal al-Fadl

By 1996, Bin Laden had landed in Jalalabad. There he was met with warm “greetings” by members of the Taliban. The Pakistan born ultra-orthodox group of the Hanafi clan knew of his arrival. Bin Laden had been forcibly expelled by the Sudanese government, under the constant pressure from the United States and Saudi Arabia. He is offered asylum under full protection from the Taliban, where he is given residency in Tora Bora. The entire Southern corridor of Afghanistan belonged to the Taliban, under the leadership of Mohammad “Mullah” Omar. And by September 23, 1996, the capitol, Kabul, was under full authority of the group. However, Northern commanders refused to cede any territory to it’s North.

The problems involving Bin Laden came soon afterwards. It was also the first sign of radical change of Bin Laden’s mindset, and Al Qaeda’s agendas.

The first fatwa came on August 23,1996, titled, “Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places”. It complains of American activities in numerous countries, while also lamenting the fact that the Saudi Monarchy committed grave offenses allowing “kafir” to guard the two holiest sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina. One of the co-signors, Ayman al-Zawahiri, along with Ahmed Refai Taha from Gamma Islammiyah…..the takfiris. They had finally supplanted their Wahhabi ideology into the mind of Bin Laden. When Al Qaeda was at first simply interested in defending the Afghan landscape from secular invaders, they now were beginning to focus on the “far enemy”, as defined by al-Zawahiri. It was the also the first time, Bin Laden, had changed his political stance from defending Afghanistan, to challenging the United States.

According to Ayman al-Zawahiri there were two enemies:

Near enemy — Arab secular governments
Far enemy — The United States & Israel

In his book “Knights Under The Prophet’s Banner”, al-Zawahiri calls for fighting the Crusader Alliance, a clear enemy. During the initial formation of Al Qaeda, there were no “clear enemies”, they had no objectives other than being a military front which provided specialized, militant training in Afghanistan.

“The struggle for the establishment of the Muslim State cannot be considered a regional struggle certainly not after it had been ascertained that what can be described as the, Crusader Alliance led by the United States, who will not allow any Muslim to reach power in the Arab countries.”

In regards to a reactionary offense to a pre-emptive strike (Chapter Ten):

“We must not despair of the repeated strikes and calamities. We must never lay down our arms no matter how much losses were sacrifices we endure. Let us start again after every strike even if we had to begin from scratch.”

Lastly, al-Zawahiri hints at drawing not confronting the enemy in Islamic lands, but to strike inside of theirs. (Chapter Ten):

“The Masters in Washington and Tel Aviv are using the regimes to protect their interests and to fight the battle against the Muslims on their behalf. If the shrapnel from the battle reach their homes and bodies, they will trade accusations with their agents about who is responsible for this. In that case, they will face one of two bitter choices either personally wage the battle against the Muslims, which means that the battle would turn into clear-cut Jihad against infidels, what say we consider their plans after acknowledging the failure of the brute and violent confrontation against Muslims.

Therefore, We must move the battle to the enemies grounds to burn the hands of those who ignite fire in our countries.”

Steve Brooke, Research Associate at the Nixon Center. Would amply define Ayman al-Zawahiri’s terms of “near enemy” and “far enemy”

Self-inflicted Wounds: Debates and Divisions Within Al-Qa’ida and Its Periphery

By March 1997, Bin Laden meets for the first time, Mullah Omar. He offers the Taliban, construction and guerilla training, building roads and water channels, same offer as he did with Hassan al-Turabi in the Sudan. What proved more valuable, was the offer of Al Qaeda fighters against the Northern Alliance, under Ahmed Shah Massoud. Omar wanted to control Bin Laden more, noting that any outside interference from the West regarding Bin Laden before he had a chance to defeat Massoud would be a terrible predicament. The Taliban knew full well about the problems the “takfiris’ served, especially with Bin Laden giving unpresented media interviews and declaring unjust fatwas that were not recognized by any Islamic or Sunni scholar. Bin Laden got the warning however, he was not to conduct any terrorist operations while inside the country as the guest of Omar. To better watch him, Omar relocated Bin Laden and approximately 100 family and associates to Kandahar. The Taliban provided armed guards.

On February 23rd, 1998…a second fatwa, this time more direct and personal, titled “Jihad against Jews and Crusaders”. Co authored again, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Refa Taha, they formed a group, the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders. A different subsection from Al Qaeda, that involved them for direct terrorist acts. To which it now involved the killing of any civilian, anywhere in the world.

“The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty Allah, “and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,” and “fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah.”

This was indeed quite the radical change from the determined mindset of Bin Laden before the Egyptians arrived in Peshawar in 1988.

August 7, 1998….two trucks pulled up to U.S Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, both ignited sending first the shockwaves, then the explosions. Just two months prior, Bin Laden, with Taliban authority and compliance held an interview with ABC’s John Miller. Behind Bin Laden, a map of the African continent. A message, that was hidden from the world, we will attack you here. Omar was not adamantly opposed to Bin Laden’s newfound fight or opposition to the West, just opposed to the timing of it. The Mullah, wanted to defeat the North and set up a caliphate but one that didn’t extend beyond Afghanistan. 13 days after the bombings, the United States responded in kind, sending numerous missile strikes.

Codenamed “Operation Infinite Reach”, it sent missiles to destroy an Al Qaeda base in Khost, and the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan. However, the legend of Bin Laden even grew further around the Islamist world. For he was left unscathed by the air assault, to which Bin Laden gave cassette recordings of his assurance that he was still alive. Just two months prior, Saudi Intelligence Directorate, Prince Turki Bin Faisal, had visited Tarnak Farms, located south of Kandahar and met with Mullah Omar. The message,

“Expel Bin Laden, so he can be returned back to Saudi Arabia.”

However, after the U.S military strikes inside Afghanistan, and the pressure of handing a fellow Muslim to an apostate in the Saudi Arabia-U.S alliance would be too great a burden to bear from the full affront of the Islamic Union. Omar rejected al-Faisal’s offer. U.S Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, known for her “persuasive” persona, even in the Arab culture, pressures the Taliban to surrender Bin Laden, Omar in return rejected these pleas, exclaiming that the United States committed war by firing inside the country. Just weeks later, Omar contacts, Michael E. Malinowski the U.S-Director for Pakistan, Afghanistan Affairs. He advised the United States government that the missle strikes were counter-productive and would increase hostility in the Islamic world against the U.S. al-Zawahiri’s dream of enticing, the West (the far enemy) was beginning to take shape. al-Faisal would once again meet with Mullah Omar on September 19,1998……pressuring him to surrender Bin Laden. To which the Omar replied:

“God has given you everything, but yet you cannot defend yourselves against puny Iraq and therefore you invited the Americans into your country to protect you and fight your battles.”

Days later after this second rejection by the Taliban, Saudi Arabia would break off all diplomatic ties with the group.

Deobandi clerics in Pakistan supported Bin Laden’s call for Jihad against the Americans, with the United States responding that they would hold the Taliban responsible for any attacks on Americans and their interests abroad. However the pressure was now on the Taliban, and an excuse had to be found. And by Spring of 1999, the Taliban thru their media arm announced that Bin Laden “had been missing” from the country. By October 15, 1999, United Nations Resolution 1267 is passed, it would hold harsh sanctions against the Taliban. To which the charter stated the following:

“These resolutions have all been adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and require all States to take the following measures in connection with any individual or entity associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden and/or the Taliban as designated by the Committee:

  • freeze without delay the funds and other financial assets or economic resources of designated individuals and entities [assets freeze],
  • prevent the entry into or transit through their territories by designated individuals
    [travel ban], and
  • prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale and transfer from their territories or by their nationals outside their territories, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, spare parts, and technical advice, assistance, or training related to military activities, to designated individuals and entities [arms embargo].”

This prompted a high level meeting of the Deobandi-Taliban clans. Taliban Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abd Al Ali, along with the Union of Afghan Ulema decided that Bin Laden should not be handed over to the Americans. The Union is not part of the Taliban and don’t hold sway on their political decisions, as they are an independant body in Quetta, Pakistan.

One of the primary speakers, Younis Khalss from the Hezb-e-Islami (no relation to Hekmatyar’s group), spoke up in defense of Bin Laden being handed over to the kuffar of the West.

“O Sulaiman! We are the Afghans. If the livestock in the lands of the two Holy Mosques; the cattle, sheep and camels; sought our protection, we will surely protect it in the best manner and we would not hand it over to no one. So, in what way do we deal with a man who we saw from him nothing but support, Jihad and bestowment? And these are the graves of his brethren and their martyrs are in every region of Afghanistan?? This will not be!”.

The decision was made, Osama Bin Laden, was not to be handed over to the United States, or Saudi Arabia. No matter the cost. The Egyptians led by al-Zawahiri, could not be more pleased at the outcome. With the full protection of the Taliban, operations for a strike against the “far enemy” in the United States was in the planning stages.

“If with the kuffar there are pious people from the best of mankind and it is not possible to fight these kuffar except by killing them, then they are to be killed as well.” — Ibn Taymiyyah

Al Qaeda were not an organization that was considered of the Sunni-Shia divide, although they found Shia heretics, they abhorred the act of killing them. Unlike the Islamic State, who considered the most sinful of all, the Shia, Alawites and other Muslims from the “twelver” school of thought, and who defer to, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first imam in reverence. Bin Laden however, found that Shia were not of the “true” representation of the Islamic faith, learned to him, and also guided by the takfiri’s while in the period of 1988–1996, when the Egyptian’s al-Zawahiri and al-Sharif were consistently learning him the Wahab ideology and Qutb’s political stance which were concomitant of each other.

The Taliban were about to receive a commitment from the Saudi shaikh, and in March 2001, Bin Laden pledged loyalty to Mullah Omar. A pure strategic move, which would later have proved to be, invaluable. Yet, the Arab conscripts of Al Qaeda did not recognize Omar as a leader, their loyalty belonged to Bin Laden and him alone. They did not recognize Omar for he was not of the “Quarysh” tribe. The Quarysh are arabs, ho historically controlled Mecca and the holy Ka’aba. The meaning of the name is from the arabic, taqarrush, meaning “association”. Omar was from the Hotak tribe, Pashtun.

Bin Laden’s interpretations involving Wahhabi Islam changed as well, during the last 5 years since returning from the Sudan, with the takfiri’s in tow, his personal war went outside the boundaries of what he learned from the Egyptians and Saudis. According to Natana J. Delong-Bas auth of, “Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad”:

“The differences between the worldviews of bin Laden and Ibn Abd al-Wahhab are numerous.

Bin Laden preaches jihad; Ibn Abd al-Wahhab preached monotheism.

Bin Laden preaches a global jihad of cosmic importance that recognizes no compromise; Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s jihad was narrow in geographic focus, of localized importance, and had engagement in a treaty relationship between the fighting parties as a goal.

Bin Laden preaches war against Christians and Jews; Ibn Abd al-Wahhab called for treaty relationships with them.

Bin Laden’s jihad proclaims an ideology of the necessity of war in the face of unbelief; Ibn Abd al-Wahhab preached the benefits of peaceful coexistence, social order, and business relationships.

Bin Laden calls for the killing of all infidels and the destruction of their money and property; Ibn Abd al-Wahhab restricted killing and the destruction of property.

The militant Islam of Osama bin Laden does not have its origins in the teachings of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab and is not representative of Wahhabi Islam as it is practiced in contemporary Saudi Arabia, yet for the media it has come to define Wahabbi Islam in the contemporary era. However, “unrepresentative” bin Laden’s global jihad of Islam in general and Wahhabi Islam in particular, its prominence in headline news has taken Wahhabi Islam across the spectrum from revival and reform to global jihad.”

What religion did Bin Laden hold? It wasn’t definitively clear to certain Islamic historians but his political stance was certainly clear, the disposition he held for Americans and Israel, which used their alliance to justifying the war in Iraq, and most certainly, Palestine. The conflict was with the global stage and not just in Afghanistan, but, outside of it.

But first, to build an al Qaeda stronghold in Afghanistan!

During the latter summer months of 1999, Al Qaeda under Bin Laden’s authority would start giving military support to the taliban in their fight against Massoud and the Northern Alliance. In August the Taliban gained more ground, this time capturing Charrikar and Bagram pushing Massoud’s forces back, to which they returned in kind. Reclaiming that which they lost. But in the end, the Taliban and Al Qaeda proved to be too much losing it, for good. The Arabs would also expand their presence to the North, where Massoud would implore the United States to intervene, but without a response. Massoud knew if the country fell to the Arabs and the Taliban, the world would become under direct threat posed by Bin Laden.

Bin Laden had bigger plans now, to encapsulate a wider war with the “far enemy”. He wanted to re-establish Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and strengthen the group with new members, and thus he leaned on recruiting Yemeni and Saudis. By the mid period of 2000–2001 Bin Laden recruited hundreds whom attended the Al Farouq training camp, they were taught guerilla warfare as well as assassinations. He knew that time was against Massoud. For good reason, a plot had been hatched, for months.

On September 9th 2001, Ahmed Shah Massoud agreed to give an interview to two men who had give similar interviews to Abdul Rasul Sayyaf and Jalaluddin Haqqani, what wasnt known was they were there on Bin Laden’s authority. A bomb was hidden in the camera , which exploded on impact, mortually injuring Massoud who died in short time.

Two days later, foure commercial airliners were hijacked, two had crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center, one impacted the Pentagon and another crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri’s plan was to strike at the very heart of the United States. Whether the operation was manipulated by the intelligence arm, or not, was not of importance…yet. The eternal question is, under whose authority was this operation done? Bin Laden? al-Zawahiri? Khalid Sheikh Muhammad? We can only speculate, but the idea behind the operation certainly was in line to what Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri had long ago devised. The soil which Bin Laden once moved, was now, being bombed….into dust. What use of the soil now? Much like Bin Laden’s mind, wasted potential.

To plight the United States of its economy and draw it’s military into a long drawn out conflict in the country dubbed, “the graveyard of empires”, Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed to not have known about the operation, for which i personally believe to be the case, since it would definitely be at their personal behest. The takfiris from Egypt certainly got what they wanted, especially al-Zawahiri. Who considered the greater enemy to the caliphate in Arab countries, the United States-Israel alliance.

However, it was Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, the man who was the primary foundation behind the current jihadi-takfiri mindset in his text “Rationalizing Jihad in Egypt and the World”, who would “reverse course”, and come out against the very text and belief he once held….al-Sharif who relocated to Yemen in 1994 and left the Jihad had kept a low profile, until the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks.

“People hate America, and the Islamist movements feel their hatred and their impotence. Ramming America has become the shortest road to fame and leadership among the Arabs and Muslims. But what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy’s buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of yours? … That, in short, is my evaluation of 9/11.”

The hope of reversing Salafi based terrorism comes by education and de-radicalizing the Arab youth.

“Every great tragedy forms a fertile soil in which a great recovery can take root and blossom…but only if you plant the seeds.” (Steve Marboli)



Adam Fitzgerald

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