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Al-Qaeda: The Beginning
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The Afghani war against the Russians took place from 1979 to 1989 was preached and advocated as a holy war, supported by several governments in the Arab world with the assistance of the US, Pakistan and some other countries. Before 1998 the name Al-Qaeda was given to the assorted training camps of the mujahedeen and jihadist groups that operated in Afghanistan, fighting against the Russians during and after the Afghan – Russian war. Some of the names of these camps were Salah El Din El Ayoubi, Khaled Ibn El Waleed, Omar ibn El Khattab, Abu Bakr El Sedik, and Jihad Wahl. The Jihad Wahl camp was considered one of the advanced training camps, only for sworn members. One of the establishers of these training camps was Sayed Moussa. An ex colonel of Special Forces, he set up the facilities and the training schemes. These camps had 70 – 100 fighters of Arab origins. The Arab fighters would reside in villas in an area that what known as Bait Al-Ansar, and some had their families and children accompanying them. The camps would not only spend funds received on weapons, ammunitions and training, but would include medical and other residential services that would be provided in regular military bases. What made these fighters special and outstanding was that they used to receive funds from relief organizations channeled to Abdallah Azzam, one of the early preachers for the Afghan war against the Soviets. He was the teacher and a main figure that influenced Osama Bin Laden and his Jihad in Afghanistan. The relationship between some of the Arab mujahideen and Azzam didn’t turn out well since they found out through some of the Saudi Arabians that worked with Azzam that he was in close contact with a Saudi Arabian intelligence officer, known by the name “Abu Mazen”. Azzam used to take the passports of the Arab mujahedeen, make copies of them and hand them to Abu Mazen, thus exposing their identities. Abu Mazen was highly integrated in the Mujahedeen society in Afghanistan and they considered him a brother, for simple reasons like having a beard and holding a tooth stick. He would give out funds and medicine to the mujahedeen as much as they needed. He even held a high position in one of the relief organizations. The Libyan and Iraqi mujahedeen received the information about Azzam’s partnership with Abu Mazen in alarm and discontent considering him as a traitor and announcing they will they would assassinate him. The reason behind their despair was because, at that time, the Libyan Qaddafi regime and the Iraqi Saddam regime used to arrest and brutally torture the families, relatives and even neighbors of the jihadists, citizens of those two countries, whom were found to be participating in the war in Afghanistan or any other jihad activities. The top jihadist figures and the leaders of the mujahedeen camps met with Abdallah Azzam and confronted him with his actions, participants of this meeting was Ayman El Zawahri, Sayed Imam, Abu Ubaidah Al-Banshiri and some others. Ayman El Zawahri, originally a physician currently is the Al-Qaida leader after the downfall of Osama Bin Laden and acted as his Deputy during his later time of leadership after 1998. His close relationship with Osama Bin Laden developed specifically for taking the role of Bin Laden’s personal doctor and for leading the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, thus increasing all measures of trust between the two. Abu Ubaidah Al-Banshiri was one of the most capable and popular leaders of Al-Qaida in its early and a prominent figure amongst the Arab Afghan Mujahideen. His actual name was Ali Amin Al Rashidi. He impressed Bin Laden so much that he appointed him military commander of the Afghan Arabs and became second in Command under Bin Laden from 1991-1996 before dying in a ferry accident in Kenya. Sayed Emam El Shareef , also known as Abdel Kader Al Shareef, was a senior member of the advisory council for the mujahedeen in Afghanistan and was considered the spiritual commander for the Al-Qaeda members and for the Islamist Jihadist groups globally. His books where known to be the foundation source, ideology platform and manual for anyone who wanted to join Al-Qaeda or conduct militant activities in the name of Islam anywhere in the world. He disconnected himself from Al-Qaeda and its direction way before 2001. An internal court against Azzam was set up by the top mujahedeen leaders which he refused to attend. Azzam justified his collaboration with Abu Mazen that the Saudi Arabian authorities where his main source of funding and providing details on the mujahedeen was essential to receiving it. Azzam further escalated the issue by cutting all the funds he used to distribute to the Arab mujahedeen camps and only spent the money over the camps that he controlled. He therefore was not only accused of betraying the Arabs mujahedeen but causing a financial crisis in addition. The enraged Arab mujahedeen set up a plan to assassinate Azzam by the use of an ambulance that would have several heavy equipped fighters in it. Abu Ubaidah Al-Banshiri specifically and other mujahedeen leaders interfered to stop the assassination attempt. Ayman El Zawahri sent a field commander who was in close connection with Osama Bin Laden to fly to Saudi Arabia, requesting his interference to resolve the dispute that had occurred. They knew that if this issue wasn’t resolved it would negatively affect their Jihad plans and they would lose image in the Arab and Muslim world exposing them as unorganized and un-united. Bin laden was in good relations and in affiliation with Azzam. At that period of time Bin Laden wasn’t residing in Afghanistan but frequently visited and participated in battles as well as giving funds to Azzam and to Afghani commanders like Gullbudin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar was one of the main warlords and mujahedeen leaders during the Afghan – Russian war and because of his effectiveness as a commander against the Russians, according to Pakistan’s ISI Intelligence he received the highest percentage of covert aid due to his record. Osama Bin Laden’s attempts to reconcile the situation with Azzam failed. In order to save the situation Bin laden took responsibility of funding the camps from that point forward. Azzam was assassinated in 1989 suspects to his assassination include competing Islamic Jihad Leaders, the CIA, the Israeli Mossad and the Iranian Intelligence. Later on, the Arab mujahideen gave oath of allegiance and fidelity to bin laden vowing loyalty to him and his cause hence making Osama bin laden their leader – The new leader of the Arab camps , the new Al Qaeda leader and its beginning . Mohammed Salama is Research Analyst – Egypt & MENA Region, in the International Affairs Division at the Centre of International Relations and International Affairs Forum.

Comments in Chronological order (2 total comments)

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Mon, December 23, 2013 10:51 AM (about 79731 hours ago)
An excellent article.
Mon, December 23, 2013 07:05 PM (about 79723 hours ago)
Very informative
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