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The Brotherhood of Global Jihad
Reuven Paz

Despite various assessments over the past decade about the prospects of a decline of violent radical Islamist groups due to better cooperation in countering terrorism in general, and the Islamist brand in particular, it seems that this kind of terrorism is still developing. The September 2001 attacks in the USA, the infrastructure of activists involved, and the waves of arrests of hundreds of Islamists all over the world, might prove to us that this kind of global terrorism has not even reached its peak yet. Furthermore, there is a real threat that the impact of these violent ideologies, doctrines and activities, on the one hand, and the global counter-terrorism effort, on the other, may lead to two major developments, whose signs can already be traced over the past decade:

  • The development of new and larger bases of Islamist radicalism and terrorism or political violence in Muslim communities in the West – mainly Europe, and North and South America – under the consolidation of two relatively new Islamist doctrines:

  • One is the globalization of the Islamist struggle in the form of the solidarity of global Jihad as a religious duty, and against what is perceived as the global conspiracy against Islam as a religion, culture, and a way of life.
  • The other is the emergence of a new Islamist trend and doctrine of the ‘Non-Territorial Islamic State.’ Within this framework, Muslim communities in the West are perceived as a kind of Islamic state without territorial dimensions, and the ideal and religious mission of Islam is to establish one Islamic state and rule. This doctrine, whose origins were developed by Islamic scholars in the United Kingdom, put emphasised the socio-cultural, economic, and political consolidation of the Muslim communities. It did, however, give freedom to the principle of Islamic pluralism and the to activities of a variety of organizations, groups, and institutions reflecting all kind of trends of modern Islamic thought. The democratic and liberal environment of Western countries greatly influenced this pluralism, but the fundamentalist nature of many of the Islamic movements in their homelands persisted among these communities. One of the main elements that supported this doctrine was the interaction between different Muslim populations from various Muslim countries, nationalities, regions and cultures: Egyptians, Palestinians, Pakistanis, Turks, Algerians, Malaysians, and many more. This interaction assisted in the emergence of mutual influence, cooperation, solidarity, and the developing sense of a global threat to Islam and the Muslims. The globalization of the reaction to this perceived threat lead to the doctrine of a global Jihad.

  • The development of what we might call "Social Terrorism" – terrorism that is primarily motivated by social factors, such as the hatred of foreigners, growing unemployment and other economic circumstances, difficulties in coping with Western modernization, the changing and dismantling of traditional values and of family ties, etc. Such elements might affect other groups of immigrants as well. But, the growing Islamic and Islamist activity among Muslim communities of emigrants, in addition to Islamist doctrines of conspiracies and the global struggle against the West, encourage the rising potential of the spread of radical doctrines among the younger generation of Muslims. Furthermore, if we carefully look at profiles of many of the arrested suspects with links to Al-Qa’idah following the September 2001 attacks in the United States, and in different regions of the world, we find quite a different kind of people as compared, for example, to the Arab volunteers in Afghanistan. They are generally more educated and familiar with Western culture. But instead of using this familiarity for personal benefits and greater integration in Western culture, like their fathers did in the past, they nurture their hostility and use this familiarity to take advantage of the weaknesses of their host societies. They are what we may call "Terrorists of Alienation".

Such social processes are not new in the Arab and Muslim world. Students and graduates of universities tend, in large numbers, to adopt radical Islamist positions, and to fight the regimes of their own homelands as a result of strong social awareness and the feeling that they are a new social elite. They have in many cases, especially among those that study or graduate in the sciences, a deep consciousness of their role as a social elite and a social vanguard with a sense that they should sacrifice themselves for the sake of their society. This sense of a social mission does not change when they live outside their homelands. Their radical positions are also a result of a heritage of radical trends, which developed in the 1960s and 1970s, in which social justice and injustice became crucial criteria in the eyes of radical Islamists. It is, consequently, among these groups that we find committed individuals who do not necessarily fit the Islamist stereotype with its total observance of religious rites and practices.

These two developments encourage another element – the restoration and preservation of their origins and the homeland culture of communities of emigrants, unlike previous generations who did their best to adopt the culture of the new environment. This element contributes to the globalization of Jihad in the case of the Islamist movements. At the base of this phenomenon lies the inability of a large section of the Muslim public to cope with the technological, cultural, or economic aspects of Western modernization. This has brought about the tendency to blame secular cultures and ideologies that have given rise to these conditions, and to find salvation in a return to Islam and its glorious past – a kind of "Messianism" that gives hope for a better future. Since orthodox Islam is identified with the Islamic establishments of the modern, nationalist, secular, and sometimes even revolutionary and socialist states, the support was given to those who represented the opposite culture: the activist and radical alternative that opposes the national state.

The Globalization of the Islamist Struggle

These developments within Muslim communities have led to new ideological trends which have been consolidated mainly through the shift of Islamist terrorism from the Middle East or the Arab world to Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Caucasus, former Yugoslavia, and South East Asia. Included in this is the continuance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the rising influence of religious elements in it, not only through support for the Hamas but also over the issue of Jerusalem. These trends, which found refuge in Afghanistan and other areas of interfaith conflicts, created the social, political and ideological common grounds, not only for operational cooperation of various Islamist networks, but also for the exchange of doctrines and ideological perspectives in a process of the consolidation of a new Global Jihadi-Takfiri-Wahhabi ideology. This ideology has been developing not only among groups of exiles or fighting warlords in Muslim countries and areas, but among growing numbers of supporters, Islamist scholars and organizations among Muslim communities in the West. The rapid growth of global communication, through the Internet and cellular and satellite technology is a major factor that has contributed to this new ideological greenhouse.

One important consequence of the globalization of this ideology is the spread of suicide terrorism in recent years – from Lebanon to the Palestinian arena, to East Africa, Kashmir, Chechnya, the Yemen, and the United States. Crucially, the Islamic religious support and legitimacy for this phenomenon is astonishing, as was witnessed in April 2001 by the huge wave of reactions when the Saudi Mufti issued a Fatwah (Islamic ruling) condemining this method of operation.1

The same element is visible in the disputed and contradictory rulings that were issued following the attacks in the United States (See Supplement No. 2).2 We can assume that this process will continue against the background of the American campaign in Afghanistan and their effort to create a wide coalition – including nations in the Muslim world – to support their global war against terrorism. A similar phenomenon manifested itself in 1991 at the time of the Gulf War and the western attack on Iraq.

Another element of importance recently in the consolidation of this trend, was the adoption of the Palestinian cause by many Islamist groups that had shown little interest in the issue in the past. We can also witness the intensive involvement of Palestinian Islamist scholars in the new ideology, starting from Dr. Abdallah Azzam in Afghanistan, the father of the idea of the Al-Qa`idah, through Islamist scholars such as Omar Mahmoud Abu Omar ‘Abu Qatadah’ in London, and Sheikh Issam al-Burqawi ‘Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’ in Jordan. We might add to them Dr. Fathi Shqaqi in the Palestinian territories, who introduced to the Sunni Arab world the global aspirations of revolutionary Iran and the doctrines of Khomeini. They were joined by a series of Saudi-Wahhabi oppositionist scholars and Egyptian Jihadi-Takfiri scholars. This gave the new ideology the dimension of a global terrorist struggle, justifying themselves by basing their doctrine on the principle that their Jihad has the nature of self-defense and retaliation to a Western-Jewish global conspiracy.

Although we are now in the middle, and possibly just at the start, of a world-wide investigation of the contacts and linkages of this phenomenon, following the attack in the United States, we are dealing with an issue whose developments and roots lie in the 1980s and early 1990s, and even earlier. The historical dimension here is therefore essential in the attempt to really understand the present implications and prospects of countering Islamist violence and terror. The roots of Global Jihad and the establishment of its cells and networks did not start in recent years. They lie in the collaboration of Egyptian and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the late 1970s and early 1980s; in the flow of Arab volunteers of different nationalities to Afghanistan during the 1980s; in the groups of volunteers from all over the Arab and Muslim world to Bosnia, Albania, and Kosovo and later on to Chechnya in the 1990s; in the massive terrorism against Israel over the past three decades; in the extensive massacres in Algeria during the 1990s; and in the growing support for Islamist doctrines in the 1990s in part through what seem to be social, cultural and welfare foundations, charity funds, and research institutes in the West.

Investigators who seek to understand the present complicated contacts and forms of Islamist terrorist cells and organised groups in Europe, for example, should first read the protocols of the Egyptian courts in the cases of ‘The returnees from Bosnia and Albania’ in the early 1990s. They should also read past ideological and doctrinal writings, speeches, and interviews of Islamist scholars in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Palestine, Egypt, and other places, such as – surprisingly or not – London.

This is a crucial element in the research on terrorism, especially in dealing with radical Islamists whose doctrines might seem a renovation of orthodox religious ideas and principles, and whose groupings can easily and quickly transform and move from one region to another. But, their roots do not change at all. They go on relying on the fundamental and basic doctrines, which have been developed in the Arab world since the 1960s and the 1970s. Even in other regions of the world, Central Asia, South-East Asia, Europe, or North America, the leading elements of Islamist radical terrorism in all its dimensions are Arabs who dragged with them, and go on doing so, the basic elements of these interpretation, creating a renaissance of radical Islam.

In many cases, moreover, Islamist activists have an influence on parts of the Muslim public whose religious knowledge is poor and who, as a consequence of social pressures, tend to adopt motives that sometimes lack religious sanctions or norms and that emphasise social and political confrontation. The radical perception of basic Jihad as ordered by the Prophet is, therefore, more attractive and appealing to many of them. According to court papers of cases against members of Al-Qa`idah and Egyptian elements, US prosecutors claimed that this ideology has been used by Bin Laden and his allied groups to mobilise recruits through international companies and relief organisations that were front organisations. Recruits were often contacted and motivated at their US residences, with communications by fax, satellite phones and coded letters.

We can find an example of this basic formulation of the idea of Jihad in the copies of letters for the suicide hijackers who carried out the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US.3 On the morning of the operation they were ordered:

Tighten your clothes [a reference to one making sure his clothes will cover his private parts] since this is the way of the pious generation of the Prophet. They used to tighten their clothes before battle.

When they were supposed to hijack planes they were ordered:

Do not forget to take a bounty, even if it is a glass of water to quench your thirst or that of your brothers, if possible, because this is one of the norms of the Prophet.

The hijackers were supposed to view themselves throughout the operation and the preparations as belonging to the companions of the Prophet, as if they had returned to the 7th Century. This basic understanding of Islamic behaviour became, in many cases, an initiation to this conception of Islam, and that includes norms of behaviour that are, on one hand, very simple to understand, and, on the other, that create a basis for unity among different groups and individuals, without entering into the difficult ideological and theological interpretations. This has resulted in a new-found unity of purpose. If, in the past decades, Islamists all over the Arab and Muslim world tended to split into numerous factions, generally on an ideological basis, we can now witness a tendency to put these ideological disputes aside. There is a consequent consolidation of groups on a far more practical basis of clearly defined and simple duties, within a wide framework of Jihad.

Al-Qa`idah – The Brotherhood of Global Jihad

The most famous group reflecting this new trend, and which represents, in the eyes of the world, the whole phenomenon, is Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qa`idah. The group developed from the civilian and social infrastructure supporting the Afghan groups that fought against the Soviet Union between 1980-89, called "The Office for Services" (Maktab-al-Khidamat). The office was established by the Palestinian Dr. Abdallah Azzam, who moved to Afghanistan from Jordan in 1980, and gave the Afghan groups of the Mujahidin their Islamic religious, cultural, and social justifications. In April 1988, in the Al-Jihad magazine that he had founded and edited as the central organ of the Afghani groups, he published an article on "The Solid Base" (Al-Qa`idah al-Sulbah)4 that gave the grounds and outlines for the new group.. (See Supplement 1).

Toward the end of his article, which was published in 1988, Azzam left a kind of a will for the future, a will that appears to be achieving realisation in the present days:

Now America is trying to grab the fruits of this great Jihad and to rule without recourse to Allah’s book. Accordingly, the solid base (Al-Qa`idah) has to face international pressures and temptations from all over the world. But they refused to bow their heads before the storm. They decided to continue their march along a path of sweat, and tears, and blood.

In one of the more important of his books5 Azzam had written, also in 1988:

It is about time to think about a state that would be a solid base for the distribution of the (Islamic) creed, and a fortress to host the preachers from the hell of the Jahiliyyah [the pre-Islamic period].

The main theme of Azzam, even if he does not mention the word, is to establish an Islamic army, where the Afghani struggle against the Soviets should be its modern model, and the fight of Muhammad the Prophet and his companions, its old one. The idea is, therefore, to create a pioneering generation of fighters, who would prepare themselves for a constant fight against the West and its allies in the Muslim World. His model is not the Muslim world but the Afghan scene. In a visit he paid to the United States in 1988 in order to recruit American Muslims to fight in Afghanistan, he described the Afghan Mujahidin as the sublime model of Islamic fighters to lead the Islamic world and Muslims in an eternal fight with the evil powers of Western culture.6

The long period of struggle against the enemy adds to the "Messianic" element of this Islamist mission. But, another important element of Al-Qa`idah was the sense of elitism in this vanguard army. It was quite easy to add to this two other elements that were developed in Egypt and Saudi Arabia over the past decades – Takfir (refutation) and fundamental Wahhabism. The Mujahidin in Afghanistan, especially those who came from outside the country, either as exiles or on a voluntary basis, could adopt the principles of the Takfiri ideas of creating an isolated society of true Muslims. The same was with the ideas of fundamental Wahhabism, developed in the 1930s by the zealots of Wahhabi Ikhwan who settled on the borders of the new state, evolving the most extreme ideas towards the rest of their society.

The article published by Azzam is, not surprisingly, very similar to articles of the same nature published in the late 1970s and early 1980s through two Islamic magazines – Al-Mukhtar al-Islami [The Islamic Assortment] in Cairo and Al-Tali`ah-al-Islamiyyah [The Islamic Vanguard] in London. The two leading editors of these magazines were Dr. Fathi Shqaqi and Dr. Bashir Nafi` (who used the alias ‘Ahmad Sadiq’). These co-founders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, while studying medicine in Egypt, were in close contact with the founders of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Egyptian Islamic Groups (Al-Gama`at al-Islamiyyah). The ideas of the Al-Qai`dah and Al-Tali`ah actually originated from the Palestinian arena. The only difference was the focus on Afghanistan and the Afghani Mujahidin by Azzam, and Shqaqi and Nafi’s focus on Palestine and the Palestinians. Osamah Bin Laden, since 1996, combined the two Islamist strands in a growing effort to use the Palestinian issue as the most unifying element of the Global Jihad. In his long "Declaration of War against the American Occupation of the Land of the Two Holy Places", first published in the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat in August 1996 in the form of an Islamic ruling, Bin Laden stated:

My Muslim Brothers of the World, your brothers in Palestine and in the land of the two Holy Places [Saudi Arabia] are calling your help and asking you to take part in fighting against the enemy – your enemy and their enemy – the Americans and the Israelis… Oh Lord, the people of the Cross had come to with their horses and occupied the land of the two Holy places, and the Zionist Jews fiddling as they wish with Al-Aqsa Mosque, the route of the ascendance of the messenger of Allah. Our Lord, shatter their gathering, divide them, shake the earth under their feet and give us control over them….7

The fight through the leading role of the pioneering Islamic generation against the Crusader- Jewish conspiracy was the main motive of Bin Laden's second ‘ruling’, his declaration on the establishment of the ‘World Islamic Front for the Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders’. The document was first published in London by Al-Quds al-Arabi in February 23rd 1998.8 This time it was not Bin Laden himself, but a joint ruling by him with the leaders of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Egyptian Islamic Groups, Jamiat-ul-ulema-e-Pakistan, and the Islamic movement of Bangladesh.

The combination of the Islamic world, Afghanistan, and Palestine, was the centre of Bin Laden's famous interview on Al-Jazirah TV following the start of the American attack on Afghanistan in early October 2001. The culture of global Jihad is therefore a combination of Jihad, Takfir, and Wahhabism, as has been developed long before it became an organised unity in the form of a global front of terrorist infrastructure.

Muslim Communities in the West – the Real Infrastructure of Global Jihad

The aforementioned elements were not new. Islamic and Islamist movements and groups have used attacks on the United States, Israel, Western Culture and the alleged conspiracy against Islam and the Muslims, as mobilising ideological elements for many years. Anti-Western and Anti-Jewish feelings created by Islamist, as well as nationalist and secular elements, governments and regimes in the Arab and Muslim world have been the norm since long. A new element introduced over the past decade was the success in translating the doctrine of Global Jihad into an efficient terrorist struggle by the infiltration of Muslim communities in the West, and the provision of an essential element of support to such penetrating structures and agencies.

The public support for Islamist terrorist groups, so vital to their success and their financial prospects, is the consequence of four social and psychological factors underlying the Islamic social-political renaissance:

  • Islamic and Islamist movements and groups have succeeded over the past three decades in planting in Arab and Muslim societies the notion of a kind of global cultural war, in which they confront a global conspiracy against Islam as a religion, culture, and way of life. Thus, concepts synonymous in the Western political culture with terrorism and political violence are now viewed by many in the Islamic world as religious duties. Such concepts include Jihad, Takfir (refutation), Istishhad (Martyrdom, including by suicide), and Shahid (Martyr). The central notion, common to most of the Islamic movements and groups – those that carry out terrorism and political violence, and those that justify it and feed the atmosphere that promotes such activity – is that of being in a state of siege, which calls for self-defence. To those who believe in this worldview, the confrontation justifies the use of all means – particularly when these means are given religious legitimacy.
  • Many of the Islamist and Islamic movements and groups have succeeded in convincing many in the Muslim world that they represent the true contemporary interpretation of Islam. Most of these groups developed out of the perceived need to return to the earliest fundamental sources of Islam. Thus, they based their views on Islamic scholars like Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyyah of the Middle ages, and Ibn ’Abd al-Wahhab of the 18th Century, who were the leading fundamentalist religious scholars, as well as the most unyielding.

The success of the Islamist movements lies in the basic diversity of Islam. However it also owes much to the lack of a single Islamic centre that enjoys the confidence of the vast majority of the Muslim World, on the one hand, and the control by the modern secular regimes in the Arab and Muslim World of the religious establishments, on the other. These establishments are viewed by large parts of the public as servants and puppets of the secular state (’Ulama’ al-Salatin), whose interpretations and rulings conform to the interests of the state. Thus, radical Islamic and Islamist groups and individuals have become the spiritual guides of quite a large segment of the population, and maintain a great deal of power and influence.

  • Most of the Islamic movements and groups, primarily those that emerged since the 1960s, project the Arab and Muslim regimes – and in some cases rightfully – as symbols of arbitrary oppression and the distortion of the objectives of social justice that lie at the roots of orthodox Islam. Thus, they instil in, and bring their followers to sympathise with and support, those who present themselves as the protectors of the weaker elements of society. Thus, in many cases they manage to recruit to their side elements of social, political, cultural and economic protest movements against various Arab and Muslim regimes. These elements also see themselves as standing against the alleged global enemies and conspirators: The United States, Israel, the Jews, Western ‘Crusader’-heretic culture, etc.
  • The Islamic socio-political revival, particularly since the 1960s, is linked both to social changes in the Arab and Muslim World, and to the formation of an educated Muslim middle class in different countries. This middle class has, in part, distanced itself from Western secular modernisation and the institutions of the modern state: its military, government administration, social and economic institutions, the public media, etc. Another part of this class, mainly professionals in respected occupations, such as physicians, lawyers, pharmacists, engineers, academic scholars, or merchants, who have suffered from the tendency to nationalise the economy by the state, have found in the Islam propounded by these modern Islamists, the perceived solution to their problems. This process has created quite a large and highly educated group of individuals, who view themselves as a social avant-garde, and adopt Islamic and Islamist theories as a base for their social struggle.

The next stage was characterised by massive activity within the existing Islamic groups, along with the formation of new radical Islamic groups, followed by the publication of new doctrines and ideologies that did not necessarily correspond with orthodox Islam. Many of these new doctrines won adherents in the course of the ensuing violent struggle.

All these processes assisted the Islamist groups in gaining more power and public support, and enabled them in some cases to attract certain elements drawn from social protest movements and from struggles for human and civil rights. But, there is another very important element to note here: this is what we may call the ‘Islamic atmosphere’ created by movements and groups that are not connected to political violence or terrorism, and some of whom even publicly condemn it or express their reservations towards it. The importance of these groups and movements lies in two linked elements:

  • These groups and movements carry out the vast majority of political, social, cultural and educational Islamic work, both in the Muslim world and among Muslim communities in the West. Therefore, they serve as the most important element in creating and preserving the ‘Islamic atmosphere’ that is exploited by more extremist and violent Islamist groups. They act, consequently, in many cases, as a greenhouse for the emergence of violent groups and the preservation of worldviews of hostility towards the West or Western culture.
  • The social, political, cultural, economic, educational, and charity infrastructure of these movements are the main field of finance and support for Islamist projects that are also used as an avenue for the financing of violent and terrorist groups. They are, moreover, most active in consolidating Muslim communities in the West, and therefore create the grounds for massive fund-raising, political support, and in some cases recruitment for militant Islamist groups among their communities.

Islamic societies, either in the Muslim World or in the West, and the ‘Islamic atmosphere’, even if non-violent, serve, therefore, a crucial function in the financing of Islamist terrorism, even while they act as agencies of social and cultural activity, and of charity. Islamic social work is also, in many cases, part of social protest, either against secular Muslim regimes or Western societies – a protest that sometimes facilitates the activities of Islamist groups.

The Islamist ‘terrorist culture’ can be sketched as a pyramid – at the bottom and base of it, there is the large-scale activity of Islamic moderate and non-violent groups, associations, institutions, and projects of all kinds. At the head of the pyramid, there is the radical pro-terrorist activity. In the middle there are various processes that refine certain social elements into hatred, revenge, the search for power and violence. This violence is, in many cases, indirectly supported and financed by innocent elements as a result of culturally violent influences.

A very important element contributing to the support for Islamist terrorist groups and the globalisation of the Islamist Jihad, which is increasingly observed in the Western world, is the growing alienation between Muslim émigré populations and the surrounding Western societies. The rising hatred of foreigners in the major countries in Europe, poverty and unemployment, difficulties in coping with Western modernisation and values, the clash of values and cultures, and disintegration of family values, have created the circumstances for significant social and political activity of the Islamist activists. Islamic social and welfare movements, which are not part of the radical trend, help in creating the Islamic atmosphere that directly and indirectly assists the radicals too, mainly in fund raising, recruitment of supporters and members, establishing all kinds of institutions, and distributing different kinds of publications. Above all, they attempt to plant, in growing Muslim societies in the West, the perception of Western culture as the enemy.

An important experience of the consolidation of the Muslim community has been led by the Pakistani, Dr. Kalim Siddiqui, who for many years directed the Islamic Cultural Centre in London and established a Muslim Parliament as the minority political system for Muslims in Great Britain. The ‘Parliament’ was meant to be the base for the ‘Non-territorial Islamic State’. The key word for him was power – the State was the instrument by which a community could exercise its collective power in action.

The increasing number of Muslim migrants to Europe and the US was also a result of the political violence in Muslim countries in the 1990s. In many cases, many immigrants and asylum seekers were actively involved in violent events, or in their support, and could easily be affected by extreme and radical Islamist ideas.

In most cases the long-term goals of many radical groups are vague. They tend to speak in terms of an eternal global mission in accordance with the tenets of orthodox Islam, whose victory, even though according to their belief is assured, will only be achieved in the distant future.

They also lack normal political observances, and are consequently not pragmatic except when they are confronted by force, as was the case in the latter half of the 1990s. When Arab regimes started to fight the Islamists by force, a move was initiated among terrorist groups to transform themselves into legitimate political movements and parties. This happened in 1998-99 in Egypt, Algeria, the Yemen, and partially affected the relations between Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority. An important element in this was the significant decline of public support for these groups in their homelands, as a result of their murderous operations, mainly in Algeria, and also the in Luxor in Egypt in November 1997, which shocked the Egyptian public and the Islamic establishment. But, this process was also part of the shift of Islamist terrorism to globalisation. Islamist groups started focusing on the growing Muslim communities in the West in order to secure support.

A crucial element in the 1990s, and if we look at the near future, is the massive fund-raising for all kinds of Islamic activity in Europe and the US. In many cases the money is spent on social and cultural projects, either for the benefit of the Muslim population in the West or in the Arab countries. But part of these funds are raised by various radical Islamist groups, or by their front organisations and by institutions established by them. US officials reported that they have discovered during investigations, that a significant number of Islamist terrorists were concealing their activities and sources of funds by using charitable organisations as fronts. Many of these charities do substantial community service work. As a result, such investigations are not easy and can raise allegations of selective targeting of religious or ethnic groups.

Another aspect of the social change among Muslim communities in the West has been noticeable over the past decade or two. The first generation of immigrants who sought to merge into Western society was preoccupied with economic difficulties. The expectations of the second and third generations of immigrants were in many cases unfulfilled, reinforcing their alienation from the their host societies. Although in many countries, primarily the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Germany, they were granted generous economic support, as well as freedom of speech and activity, organisation and education, there was a flood of financial support from the wealthier Muslim countries that assisted them in building and promoting their own communities. Westerners’ resentment of foreigners in their midst, and the ongoing difficulties of coping with modernisation, unemployment in addition to traditional culture and values, allowed a wide range of Islamic infrastructures to thrive in the Western democratic system, which served as a greenhouse for Islamist movements and groups. A variety of associations in London and research institutes in the United States, for example, became the backbone of Islamist terrorist groups serving diverse functions: recruitment, fund-raising, publications, communications and so forth. These elements reinforced the internationalisation of Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and Asia. Thus, the growing feeling of alienation among Muslim youth is perhaps the most important factor in analysing the prospects of future Islamist terrorism in general, and the financing of terrorist groups in particular.

To conclude, it should be noted that recent developments in the field of Islamist radicalism in the Muslim world and in Muslim communities in the West will result, in the future, on a greater reliance on these communities for the growth of Islamist terrorism. The attacks in the United States might be the first shot in transferring Islamist terrorism into the heart and centre of the Western world. The rapid developments of global communications and the Internet facilitate the globalisation of this radical Islamist struggle, both at the operational level and in the distribution of radical doctrines.

There is another crucial element the demands attention in this context. Various groups, either as independent or as united cells, can act today without the support of state sponsors, on whom they relied heavily in the past. Thus, while the pressures – particularly those exerted by the US – on such countries to stop their support to radical groups have been effective as regards these state actors, they have been far less so in the destruction of the bridges between radical Islamist groups and Muslim communities in the West.

The Implementation of Global Jihad in the West

An interesting unpublished and handwritten document,9 yet unknown to the public, can serve as the best examples of the implementation of Global Jihad under the aforementioned unified doctrines. The document is a plan to establish a world wide network of Islamic institutes of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, under the title "The Centre for Studies, Intelligence, and Information" (CSII) (Markaz al-Dirasat wal- Istikhbarat wal-Ma`lumat). The document is dated June 1981 and is classified by the authors as ‘confidential.’ Although the document was written by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, it is supposed to serve, according to its contents, as the basis for a world Jihad movement. The importance of the document lies also in the fact that it was found in the possession of Islamic activists who directed a research institute and think-tank in the University of South Florida in Tampa. In the introduction to the plan, it says:

The unique position the Islamic movement in North America is privileged to be in, provides it with good opportunities to monitor, follow up, observe and explore, considering that we are in the heart of the "civilised" focal point that affects positively or negatively the trends of culture and the social modification in the countries of the Islamic world. Just as well, we are in the core of political orientation that leads the conspiracy against our Islamic world, and in the midpoint of the Zionist and Christian organisations and others that plan and work to undermine the pillars of Islam and the Islamic movement in our countries…

The objectives of the Centre are:

  • The collection of the necessary information to use in the planning of the Da`wah activities and the political follow-up.
  • The compilation of pertinent information in the service of the Islamic action and the International Islamic Movement.
  • The preparation of advanced and modern scientific studies in the various current affairs that are of interest to Islam and Muslims in general, and the Islamic movement in particular.
  • The orientation of the brothers in their fields of specialisation and to strive to benefit from them in the service of the movement.

If the above objectives could be viewed as political or even innocent ones, the structure of the Centre reveals the hidden objectives. The Centre is intended to include three divisions: of studies, of intelligence and information, and of security and military affairs. The division of intelligence and information is composed of two departments: information, and intelligence and surveillance.

The department of information is composed of six sections: North America, the Arab countries, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America and Australia. Its tasks are:

  • The collection of news, information, and documents that are of interest to the Islamic movement from the media, the libraries, newspapers and publishing houses, various clubs, organisations, institutions, and individuals.
  • The collection of detailed information on all the countries of the world and especially North America and the countries of the Islamic world.
  • The preparation of brothers specialised in specific parts of the world.

The tasks of the department of intelligence and surveillance are:

  • Informing the group ‘here’ (in the US) and in the Middle East about conspiracies woven or devised against it.
  • Observing the hostile activities towards the Islamic movement in America of:

  • The Arab and American intelligence services.
  • The Church and Missionary organisations.
  • The various media organisations.
  • The Zionist and Jewish movement.
  • The racist and Masonic organisations.
  • Suspect Arab organisations.

  • Observing suspicious persons and organisations in America that can damage the progress of the movement in America and the Middle East.
  • The surveillance of the Centres and Islamic associations and individuals supporting the movement in North America.
  • Security for the conferences and the institutions of general activity of the group.

The division of security and military affairs is responsible for the follows:

  • The preparation of orientation programs for the brothers in physical training and scouting on individual, familial, and general levels.
  • The preparation of military training programs for a group of brothers by taking advantage of the circumstances available for training in this country (USA).
  • The preparation of orientation programs to develop the sense of security among members of the group.
  • The preparation of reconnaissance and technical studies for the procurement of security and military equipment and tools for the group in America and the Middle East, and on the methods of espionage services in this country (USA).
  • The collection of information, and security and military research from their original sources that may be beneficial to the group.

The rest of the 30-page document could very efficiently be used by every modern state intelligence or security agency in the world. One doubts if even the Soviet Union had such a detailed and deep-rooted infrastructure of espionage in the United States during the cold war. Even if this plan were imaginary for a group of Islamist activists, we should notice two important elements:

  1. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has already established several such ‘research institutions’, some of which have been a subject of investigation by US authorities since the mid-1990s. One of these institutes, located at the University of South Florida, was, till 1995, directed by Dr. Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, the present commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, who now resides in Syria. Other similar institutes that are suspected of fund-raising and money laundering for Islamist terrorist groups, were also under American investigation prior to the September 11 attacks, in addition to a number of charity foundations, social and welfare funds, and research institutions.
  2. The worldview that dominates these groups is based on a confrontation of the Islamic movement with the Western world, especially the United States and the Arab regimes supported by it.

The above document also reflects the perception of a long-term struggle, in which the fight is not a matter of one or a few generations. This is another side and nature of the "Messianic" element of the global Jihad. This is an issue that the Muslim Brotherhood, the ‘mother of all Islamic movements,’ has always emphasised in its preaching – a long breath and patience – called in Arabic, Sabr. This is one of the qualities required for the members of the Front of Global Jihad. As long as they can plant this quality in their members and supporters in the Muslim world and in the Muslim communities in the West, they can succeed in preserving the zeal and devotion of youngsters who view this world as just an introduction to the hereafter.


The ideology and practice of the Global Jihad is no longer a matter of a certain group or movement, which aims at seizing power or changing the regime in its homeland. It is closer to the description of the Indian scholar, Dr. Om Nagpal, who wrote:

The Mujahidin do not hide their intentions. They do not use diplomatic or apologetic language. On various occasions they have used aggressive language. Repeatedly from the different corners of the world, they have proclaimed in categorical terms that their mission is Jihad. Jihad inspires them. Jihad invigorates them. Jihad gives them a purpose in life. Jihad for them is a noble cause, a sacred religious duty. Jihad is a mission.

So far, it is still possible to differentiate between these radicals and other Islamic trends, such as the various factions of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Khilafah groups of the school of the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami), or Salafi groups in various regions of the Muslim world. But the changes in the Islamic and Islamist map over the past decades, and probably the changes that will follow the present anti-terrorist campaign, will have their affect on Muslim youngsters in the future, goading them to seek more unity and solidarity with the groups that lead the global Jihad.

One of the main lessons that must be learned from recent experience is the need to view the phenomenon of the Brotherhood of Global Jihad in new terms: instead of movements, groups, and organisations, we should look for cells composed of multi-national Islamists. The present efforts to counter the Global Jihad will continue the process of the transfer of the centres of terrorism. In the past these Centres have been pushed from the Arab world and the Middle East to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Western success in the present attack on Afghanistan will lead to another move, either to the heart of the West or to marginal regions – such as the Philippines, for example – or both. Such transfers could create greater solidarity, co-operation, co-ordination and unity, within a dynamic in which these cells could act under this brotherhood even without a common command. Such solidarity and brotherhood could be an alternative to the loss of a central base in Afghanistan or elsewhere, or to the killing or arrest of Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, Mughniyyah, or any other leading figure of the Al-Qa’idah or of its front groups. The solution in the struggle against the Brotherhood of Global Jihad lies, therefore, in creating the Brotherhood of Global Counter-terrorism, and in maximum international co-operation on intelligence and legislation.

A word about the Taleban in Afghanistan: the Taleban were not directly involved in Terrorism, beyond the hospitality and freedom of activity they gave to the Al-Qa’idah or its front groups. But, they served as the sole model of the ‘true Islamic State’ in the eyes of most of the Islamists of the Brotherhood of Global Jihad. Their contribution to this brotherhood is, consequently, important at the ideological, as well as at the practical level. Just as the Afghan Jihad against the Soviets created the model for establishing Al-Qa’idah, so has the Taleban set up a present day model for the ‘Messianic’ Islamic State that the Islamists wish to create.


Supplement no. 1
From: Al-Jihad; No. 41, April 1988, p. 46.
"Al-QA`IDAH al-SULBAH"THE SOLID BASEDr. `Abdullah `Azzבm

Praise to Allah, and prayers and peace upon the last of the prophets.

Every principle needs a vanguard (Tali`ah) to carry it forward and, while forcing its way into society, puts up with heavy tasks and enormous sacrifices. There is no ideology, neither earthly nor heavenly, that does not require such a vanguard that gives everything it possess in order to achieve victory for this ideology. It carries the flag all along the sheer endless and difficult path until it reaches its destination in the reality of life, since Allah has destined that it should make it and manifest itself. This vanguard constitutes the solid base (Al-Qa`idah al-Sulbah) for the expected society.

As long as the ideology - even if it originates from the Lord of the Worlds - does not find this self-sacrificing vanguard that spends everything in his possession for the sake of making its ideology prevail, this ideology will be still-born, perishing before it sees light and life. The motto of those who carry this ideology forward must be:

‘Call your partners (of Allah), and then plot against me, and give me no respite. My protector is Allah, who has revealed the Book. He will choose and supports the righteous.’ (Surat al-A`raf, 195-196)

I have not understood the full dimensions of what the training concentrated upon throughout the lengthy Meccan period, as I do now so clearly, only after immersing myself into the Afghan Jihad that, by now, is in its seventh year, thanks to Allah. I went to the bottom of this issue and found out what that long ideological training was -- it is the essence of Islamic society and the fundament on which it rests. Without it there is no chance for the believing society to come about, and if it came about without it (without that understanding) it would be like a house on sand blown away by the first storm or even a gust of wind. Therefore I came with the idea of an essential base for the construction of the Islamic society, which is as follows:

The Islamic society cannot be established without an Islamic movement that goes through the fire of tests. Its members need to mature in the fire of trials. This movement will represent the spark that ignites the potential of the nation [Ummah]. It will carry out a long Jihad in which the Islamic movement will provide the leadership, and the spiritual guidance. The long Jihad will bring people’s qualities to the fore and highlight their potentials. It will define their positions and have their leaders assumed their roles, to direct the march and channel it. After all the tribulations Allah will install them in the land and make them the outer manifestation of his might and the means to the victory of his religion.

Holding of arms by the believing group before having undergone this long educating training (Tarbiyyah), because those carrying arms could turn into bandits that might threaten people’s security and do not let them live in peace.

The principal guidelines for training the pious group and the pioneering vanguard are:

1. It must jump into the fire of the toughest tests and into the waves of fierce trials.

2. The training leadership shares with them the testing march, the sweat and the blood. The leadership must be like the motherly warmth of a hen whose chicks grow under its wings, throughout the long period of hatching and training.

3. This vanguard has to abstain from cheap worldly pleasures and must bear its distinct stamp of abstinence and frugality.

4. In like manner it must be endowed with firm belief and trust in the ideology, instilled with a lot of hope for its victory.

5. There must be a strong determination and insistence to continue the march no matter how long it takes.

6. Travel provision is among the most important items on this march. The provision consists of meditation, patience and prayer.

7. Loyalty and devotion.

8. They must grasp anti-Islam machinations all over the world.

There are principal reasons for this long training:

1) The long duration of the sacrifice and enormity of the costs, over a long period of time, all that would cause frustration and despair if there is no such profound training as a secure foundation for this march.

2) All along the way there are temptations and attempts to make the troop give up. But when victory draws near, such offers and attempts at winning the combatants over are all the more intensified. Therefore the leaders must be incorruptible.

3) If therefore Allah establishes this leadership in the land, it will help us on to treasures, and it will watch over the wealth of the Muslim nation, its honor and inviolability. If this leadership is not trustworthy, then may Allah have mercy on the nation.

The Prophet’s training for the first generation

The above-mentioned eight elements were clearly discernible from the Prophet’s training of the first generation. Therefore, when the entire Arabian Peninsula deserted the faith [following Muhammad’s death] the solid base rose to the occasion and returned it back to Islam.

No mission can be divested of the element of testing: ‘We sent messengers before you. They bore patiently all those lies, until we granted them victory. Allah’s words cannot be changed. You got this from the legacy of the previous messengers.’ (Surat al-An`am). These words of Allah Almighty, to wit, that ‘Allah’s words cannot be changed’ mean that this is an established norm from among the divine patterns that do not change in life.

Al-Shafi`i, may Allah bless his memory, was asked: ‘Which of the two is better, that man be put in control or that he be oppressed?’ He replied: ‘He will not be put in control unless he has been oppressed.’

Then there is the Hadith of Khabab Ibn al-Irth in Bukhari and other sources, to wit: ‘When I went to see the Prophet I found him stretched out on a coat in the shade of the Ka`bah. I asked him: You, Allah’s Messenger, you do not pray for us, you do not implore Allah to grant us victory? He sat up, with a red face, and said: ‘before you, life was terrible. In previous times people used to suffer so much. Now things have improved so much that a traveler is able to ride from San`aa to Hadhramaut without having to fear anyone but Allah and the Wolf for his sheep. But you people, you want everything at once.’

Trial polishes the spirit, cleanses the soul and purifies the heart from meanness and pettiness. This is conveyed in an authentic Hadith: ‘the believer who suffers pain or a fever is like the piece of iron. If you put it into fire the non-essential ingredients will burn, leaving the steal pure.’

The more tribulation there is, the closer victory gets: ‘Know that victory comes with patience, and relief after affliction, after trouble there will be ease.’

The long tribulation of the Afghan people over such a long period of Jihad caused its elements to be polished and its soldiers to mature, and its leadership to solidify.

In Bukhari we read: The prophets are the people most subjected to trials, next those who are like them, who resemble them most. People are put to the test according to their religious fervor. If they are solid in their religion, they have to undergo a tougher test, and if they are not quite so solid in their religion, they will be tested according to the degree of their religion. Allah’s servant will not be left to walk the earth without trials, even if he has no fault.

As for the leader’s participation in the soldiers’ march and their difficulties that makes the soldiers love their leader all the more. Therefore we saw Allah’s blessed Messenger move with his companions from Arqam’s House [Dar al-Arqam - the house where the Prophet started his mission with the first five believers] into the concentration camp, for three years, then to Taif, then to Medina, and Badr, and Uhud and the Ditch... until Allah established him and the pious troop in the land.

For this reason we witness how the Afghan Mujahidin sacrifice themselves for their leader, who lives amongst them, with body and soul.

As for worldly abstinence, that comes from the condition of the world in its true setting, and its disregard for the life to come: ‘Compared to the Hereafter this life is like one of you putting his finger into the sea. What he comes out with is this life here.’ (Authentic Hadith). ‘If in the eyes of Allah this world were worth even the wing of a moth, a disbeliever would not be offered a sip of water from it.’

Abstinence is produced by the worthlessness of this world: ‘live a simple life and Allah will love you. Abstain from what people possess and they will love you. (Bukhari)

Abstinence from the world has the result that you do not need favors from people. It leads to honor and self-sufficiency.

In Bukhari we find: Know that the believer’s dignity lies in getting up for prayer in the night. Not needing people gives him dignity.

The Prophet recommended his followers all the time to be independent of people, not to rely on them. In Bukhari we find: don’t rely on people, even for a chewing gum. If you want one, do not ask people to give you one.

In line with this principle the Prophet made some of his Companions swear that they would never ask anybody for anything. This went so far that when the whip dropped from one of them he got off his horse rather than ask anyone to pick it up for him.

Abstinence is the very foundation of Jihad. Affluence is the biggest weakness that befalls nations, spoils their kids and undermines their humanity. A life of simplicity and limited means is an essential impulse for Jihad. We find that most of the companions of prophets were from among the poor.

The biggest burden on men’s shoulders is the running after worldly glamour and career. It makes them fear for their job and salary and the pleasures of life. Every time there is a rise in salary, the officer gets all the more attached to his job and becomes even more afraid of other people.

We can clearly see that Allah’s Prophet adopted abstinence on purpose, and the same holds true of his companions, despite the fact that the world was at their feet. In Bukhari we read: ‘Muhammad’s family never had bread for more than two days.’

4) Provision for the way: The Koran, to remember Allah, to get up for prayer at night, to keep secrets, to keep additional days of fasting, to keep the company of the pious, to command good and prohibit evil, and finally Jihad, the apex of it all. This is the provision.

Additional prayers are a must in order to strengthen the bonds between the Lord and his servant. Additional prayers are the bases of success. Absorption in worship is a sign of humility. ‘My servant approaches me through his additional prayers until I love him, and when I love him I listen to him...’ These additional prayers are provision for Jihad; they are its spirit and its life.

Loyalty and devotion. One of the most important fundaments in the life of nations is the presence of inalienable exemplary patterns that are not for sale. When the Hindu Gandhi presented Nehru to the Indian people, he said full of pride: ‘I am presenting a man to you who cannot be bought.’

So many people sold their country, their religion, and their people for a cheap price. For example Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who concluded an agreement with the British, allowing them to beat the four Turkish armies in Palestine, who abolished the Caliphate and fought Islam for the sake of a presidential chair.

There are so many Kemalists in our nation who sold it for a piece of bread or a word of recognition or a glass or a prostitute. The lack of sense of loyalty and devotion in the minds of many led them and those following them into the abyss of hell.

In Afghanistan, for instance, we saw how, at the beginning of the Jihad, some people rallied round some prominent personalities who were members of parliament during the ancient regime or who belonged to the nobility and upper class. Those people, in their moments of weakness, give statements to the effect that the Kabul regime is a government of Muslims. They abandon the Jihad and join the government.

The importance of the solid base in the Afghan Jihad:

We have now understood the importance of this base, which has been trained in Islam, from its earliest infancy on, brought up in the Islamic mission.

Let us look around and see how the whole world denigrates this Jihad. There exist global conspiracies wishing to deprive it of its fruits and extinguish its lights. We can observe international alliances to smash this Jihad and to prevent its real leadership from continuing to lead this Muslim nation.

We looked around and found only the children of the Islamic mission and the solid base who stood up to the entire world saying: ‘Here we are!’

When Allah’s enemies showed their claws and friends withdrew their support or turned into spectators, at that moment the great leaders of Jihad took charge: Sayyaf, Hikmatyar, Rabbani, Khalis, and said: ‘We trust in Allah, our best support.’

Those four got up and tore the veil form the face of the conspirators, with the words: ‘Our Lord is stronger than all the powers of the world. There is nothing that is not within the reach of Allah, neither in heave nor on earth. He knows and is powerful.

We saw in all the experiences of the Islamic peoples that the fruits of Jihad are mostly picked by stooges of the West or pro-American elements or secularists, in Afghanistan, Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Now America is trying to grab the fruits of this great Jihad and to rule without recourse to Allah’s book. Accordingly the solid base has to face international pressures and temptations from all over the world. But they refused to bow their heads before the storm. They decided to continue their march along a path of sweat and tears and blood.

The duty of the Islamic world.

It is the duty of the children of the Islamic world to firmly stand by this solid base, with their wealth and their lives: ‘those who disbelieve are friends to one another. If you do not keep them in check there will be anarchy and big corruption all over.’ (Surat al- Anfal)

The final call: We shall continue the Jihad no matter how long the way is till the last breath and the last beating of the pulse or we see the Islamic state established.



  1. The general argument of various Islamist groups or individuals has been that "all means are legitimate to fight the Jews," as argued by Shaykh Sayyid Wafa, secretary-general of the Islamic research center of al-Azhar in Egypt. Shaykh al-Azhar Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the highest Islamic authority in Egypt (appointed by the Egyptian government), not only supported suicide operations but also viewed them as an Islamic duty. His colleague Shaykh Ali Abu al-Hasan, chairman of the committee of rulings in al-Azhar, stated, "fighting the enemy with any kind of defense is a duty." He called the Palestinians to "go on hitting Jewish targets and bring an earthquake under the feet of the traitors, the people of the virus state." Reactions from secular Arab circles were also comparable. In an editorial in his newspaper on April 24, 2001, Ahmad al-Houny, editor of the London-based al-Arab, called the Saudi grand mufti's statement "the American fatwa." The main theme of secular reactions was that this fatwa was delivered under American pressure in order to stop the Palestinian uprising and armed resistance that has stood in the way of negotiations. The London based al-Quds al-Arabi wrote in its editorial the same day, under the title "Strange Fatwas from Governments' Ulama," that "the real scholars are those who issue fatwas condemning Arab official lassitude and failure to come to the support of those steadfast in defense and ready to sacrifice their blood for al-Aqsa." See, Reuven Paz, "The Saudi Fatwah against Suicide Terrorism," 16 May, 2001,

  2. See an example of a most recent severe Anti-Western ruling of the Saudi Sheikh in supplement no. 2: Fatwah on Recent Events by Shaykh Humud al-'Uqla al-Shuaibi

  3. The letter, which has been probably written by Muhammad Atta, was found among the remains of three of the planes that crashed in NYC and in Pennsylvania. Published by the FBI in September 28th 2001.

  4. Al-Jihad, no. 41, April 1988, p. 46. See full text translated from the Arabic by the author in Supplement 1.

  5. Aayat al-Rahman fi Jihad al-Afghan [The divine miracles in the Afghan Jihad] (several editions since 1984 and the revised edition in 1988).

  6. Experts from his presentations in American mosques could be viewed in the film of Steve Emerson, "Jihad in America", 1994.

  7. Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), 23 February 1998. For English translation see:


  9. The document bears the GOVERNMENT EXHIBIT no. 6-id in case 265-CTP-39461.





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