Sunday, 6 January 2013

Will Explorers be re-defined as Terrorists? CuChullaine O´Reilly

Will Explorers be re-defined as Terrorists?

Opinion; Will Explorers be re-defined as Terrorists?
There´s no doubt that red tape is getting worse by the day. I don´t know how many explorer friends I have, who can´t get into an area and explore as they´d wish due to silly and un-necessary bureaucracy.  This plague is of course nothing new in exploration history,  but with all the technical developments we are experiencing and by the day more global transparency due to the Internet, one would think it would become easier. Unfortunately not. It is getting worse.  Much worse. So, when CuChullaine O´Reilly sent me the piece below, at first I thought it was really alarmist, but I also know how thorough CuChullaine is in his research and he always finds angles that very few others would, and the more I read it, there´s definitely something the exploration world should consider and be aware of. However, as always when it comes to the Guest Writers, their opinions are theirs and not mine.
Will Explorers be re-defined as Terrorists?
CuChullaine O´Reilly

I have just completed chapter 52, “Guns & Trouble,” in the “Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration.” The project is currently up to 1000 plus pages, and includes more than 500 images to date.
The majority of people would expect a book about horse travel to focus on spurs and saddles. That has certainly been the narrow focus of the few books written about this topic in the past. In stark contrast, the Encyclopaedia is designed for 21st century equestrian explorers. In addition to containing information on how to choose horses, etc., it is the first book of its kind to deal with a host of modern problems which did not plague our equestrian forefathers.
For example, most nations only issue transit papers for horses that are destined to cross their country via a truck and trailer. These papers, usually valid for ten days, provide adequate time for a driver to deliver the horse to a competitive event. Yet such short-term transit papers do not provide time for a Long Rider to journey across an entire country.
The need for personal security has also changed. Long Riders are no longer being murdered by rampaging Indians. Today they have to be careful that their blogs do not provide cyber stalkers with information that will allow them to locate, then attack and/or sexually assault, a lone equestrian traveller.
Nor are Long Riders only interested in pack saddles. Like other members of the international exploration community, they too rely on a variety of up to date electronic equipment. This too has brought unforeseen complications.
Because the Guild has Members in 44 countries, we must constantly remind foreigners that Hollywood’s version of the American “Wild West” is not valid. In fact, the Encyclopaedia explains that in a pending court case, the U.S. government has argued its authority to protect the country’s border extends to looking at information stored in electronic devices such as a laptop. Even though the computer owner may not be suspected of a crime, when crossing into the United States, officials regard a laptop the same as a suitcase and can search it without obtaining a warrant. See this report!
Nor is this the only indication of a dramatic change in the American political climate.
In the Encyclopaedia I warn foreign Long Riders of draconian new laws which have taken effect in America. For example, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offence, however minor, at any time. History demonstrates that the use of forced nudity by a state is powerfully effective in controlling and subduing populations. This legislation joins the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which lets anyone in America be arrested forever at any time and HR 347, the “trespass bill”, which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection. See here!
While these topics will be of long-term interest to equestrian travellers, my research has revealed an interesting/alarming idea which I believe may be of immediate concern to the international exploration community.
In an article in the English press I came across this quote.
“…..the US Anti-Terror Law judges the provision of medical aid to ‘terrorists’, or negotiation with ‘terrorists’ to gain access to wounded, starving or destitute civilians, to constitute a major criminal offence. This has actively removed any identifiable ‘neutral’ status for doctors, nurses or allied health professionals in battlefield, conflict or famines zone. You are either for the ‘terrorists’ or against them.”
I believe there is a danger to exploration hidden within that paragraph.
The American government has announced that it can arbitrarily define as a “terrorist” any doctor or nurse who aids a wounded human. In such cases a victim’s politics overrules his physical suffering.
Thus, for the first time in history, it appears that the neutrality which all civilized nations have traditionally granted to the medical profession has been violated by the Americans.
If doctors can now be classified as “terrorists” by the “land of the free” are explorers next?
Consider the dramatic shift this might hold for exploration.

In the 19th and 20th centuries explorers were often suspected of spying for foreign powers. The African continent was suffering severe political upheaval in 1970, when Scottish Long Rider Gordon Naysmith set off to ride across 16 countries from South Africa to Austria. When Tanzanian soldiers mistook the equestrian explorer for an Israeli spy, Gordon was jailed, and his ribs broken, before he could establish his innocence and continue his 20,000 kilometre journey. Photo courtesy Gordon Naysmith
In the past native people had good reason to be wary of strangers posing as explorers who passed through their country uninvited. Such missions, though carefully cloaked under a disguise of geography, were often closely connected with an imperial power’s intelligence service.
For example, in 1906 Baron Carl Gustaf Mannerheim set off on a 14,000 kilometre-long, two-year ride for the Czar. The sharp-eyed cavalry officer spoke Polish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, Russian, French, German and English. The mounted espionage mission took him fromAndizhan in Russian Turkistan toPeking,China. During the ride Mannerheim gathered information on various tribes, befriended the Dalai Lama, surveyed obscure mountain passes, and scoutedChina’s Great Wall, before heading back to share his findings with the Russian government.

In 1906 Baron Carl Gustaf Mannerheim set off on a 14,000 kilometre-long, two-year espionage expedition for the Russian Czar. But times have changed since natives suspected explorers of being a spy. By stripping an explorer of his neutrality and punishing his impartial interaction with the local populace, the Americans have set the stage wherein we may soon see travellers accused of being involved with, or sympathetic to, “terrorists.”
But the hiking boot is now on the other foot.
Instead of the natives suspecting the explorer of being a spy, by stripping an explorer of his neutrality and punishing his impartial interaction with the local populace, the Americans have set the stage wherein we may soon see travellers accused of being involved with, or sympathetic to, “terrorists.”
Is such an idea far fetched? 
French Long Rider Louis Meunier recently made an extensive journey through Afghanistan. Because Louis is a fluent Farci speaker, he interacted with countless Afghans along the way, including at least one respected local mullah. That incident involved the mullah invoking a blessing on the Long Rider’s horses.

During Louis Meunier’s journey across Afghanistan a spell was cast on his horse at the village of Barakhana. Villagers believed that the mysterious knots tied in the stallion’s mane at night were placed there by a naked female jinn. To offset this equine witchcraft, Mullah Khodadad recited a prayer over the afflicted animal. Could the mullah’s political beliefs have compromised the Long Rider’s credibility in the eyes of a hostile American government?
But what if the interchange about Afghanistan’s equestrian culture had turned suddenly political? Could Louis’ participation in a local conversation with the mullah have rendered that traveller a suspect if the Taliban perpetrated acts of political subversion in the area?
What are the implications for explorers who wish to visit countries rocked by political instability, ie Afghanistan, Burma, Eritrea, Kashmir, Mali, Somalia, Syria, Tibet, Yemen, just to name a few?
Arita Baajiens is the Dutch camel traveller who explored the deserts of Egypt and Libya. When rebellion broke out across the Arab world in 2011, the desert traveller found herself swept up by the political storm. “Those kids really pulled it off,” Arita reported to ExWeb from Cairo’s Tahir Square.
Washington maintained a guarded neutrality when dissident citizens toppled Egyptian tyrant Hosni Mubarik. Likewise they ignored Arita’s actions inCairo because it suited their political purposes.
What if Arita interviewed pro-Iranian Shia protestors who are currently trying to topple the pro-American Sunni government in Bahrain?
Could a chance conversation between the Dutch explorer and a politically active student result in statements being voiced which, being in opposition to official American foreign policy, carry an automatic condemnation for the traveller?

The first modern hostage crisis occurred in 1901 when an American Long Rider Ellen Stone was kidnapped by Bulgarian revolutionary Yane Sandanski. He bragged to the media that he had “stolen” the woman so as to set his country free from the Ottoman empire. Despite being held captive in the mountains for six months, it was widely believed that Stone became sympathetic to the “terrorists.” When the American government refused to intervene, the $110,000 ransom was paid after an appeal was made to the public.
In addition to being a leader of the movement to restore exploration’s previous prominence within the Royal Geographical Society, British explorer Alistair Carr has travelled by camel in theSahara. On one occasion political rebels served as his guides.
Last month pro-Islamic Tuareg rebels seized control of the historic caravan city of Timbuktu. IsWashington prepared to dictate terms to explorers like Alistair who venture there? Will the American government decide that interactions between travellers and native guides counts as evidence of “support for terrorists”?
Could explorers become victims of political entrapment? News stories are revealing how well-paid informants are employed by the American CIA, British MI5 and the Saudi intelligence service, the Mabahith. Is there cause for concern that explorers might be lured into situations that compromise their traditional neutrality?
Who would know, you might ask?
The US Army is preparing to deploy in Afghanistan its latest helicopter-style drone, the A160 Hummingbird, equipped with 1.8 gigapixel colour cameras. Able to hover, unlike current drones, it will have unprecedented capability to monitor activity on the ground. It can track people and vehicles from above 20,000ft, and with a 65sq-mile field of view, it will have 65 steerable “windows” able to follow separate targets.
A government capable of spying on a unsuspecting traveller’s conversations can then use any images of interaction with natives as evidence of support for terrorism.
Nor does this problem reside solely with the individual traveller, as organisations which endorse explorers may also be caught up in this international net of intrigue.
Swedish explorer and Long Rider Mikael Strandberg has just arrived in Yemen, where he is preparing to set off on a perilous camel expedition across that war-torn country. Mikael is carrying flags from the international Long Riders’ Guild and theNew York based Explorers’ Club.
Given the highly volatile political climate in Yemen, what are the chances of Mikael journeying across that nation and not encountering a conversation which includes political themes and voices of dissidence?

In the past, the granting of an expedition flag was based upon the explorer’s courage and the expedition’s significance. Will political overtones influence future decisions?
If this explorer is, by default, “caught” talking to people who are politically sympathetic to Al Qaida, are the two exploration organizations which support Mikael’s journey also culpable of “supporting terrorism”?
These are troubling times and disturbing scenarios.
Members of the medical profession, as well as prominent advocates of civil liberties in theUnited States, are deeply concerned at the tremendous erosion of civil rights and basic liberties which political events have inspired.
In the past all civilized nations recognized, and respected, a doctor’s neutrality. He was, it was previously believed, acting for the good of humanity, before supporting any political cause.
That sense of international trust was based upon the Hippocratic Oath, which bound the medical professional to “remain free of all intentional injustice and mischief” regardless of where he might find the wounded or sick.
Likewise, the political neutrality of the explorer is also taken on trust.
Sadly, given the aggressive nature of new American legislation, we may be witnessing the demise of the traditional respect accorded to citizen-explorers.

Respectfully yours,
CuChullaine O’Reilly

In the 1980s Afghan freedom fighters, known as mujahadeen, were involved in a bitter conflict with the Soviet Union. CuChullaine O'Reilly was praised by the American government for his efforts to train these Afghans to become journalists. At that time, CuChullaine also explored northern Pakistan on horseback. How times change. Were he to repeat that journey today, any encounters with the sons of his former Afghan pupils might prompt the American government to accuse him of involvement with terrorists.

CuChullaine O’Reilly is the Founder of the Long Riders’ Guild, the world’s international association of equestrian explorers and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers’ Club. Author of “Khyber Knights,” he is currently completing the “Encyclopaedia of Equestrian Exploration.”

Please vist The Long Riders Guild and The World Ride




 Zawahiri and bin Laden

  "My connection with Afghanistan began in the summer of 1980 by a twist of fate," Zawahiri writes in his memoir. He was covering for another doctor at a Muslim Brothers' clinic in Cairo, when the director of the clinic asked if Zawahiri would like to accompany him to Pakistan to tend to the Afghan refugees. Thousands were fleeing across the border as a result of the Soviet invasion, which had begun a few months earlier. Although he had recently got married, Zawahiri writes that he "immediately agreed." He had been preoccupied with the problem of finding a secure base for jihad, which seemed practically impossible in Egypt. "The River Nile runs in its narrow valley between two deserts that have no vegetation or water," he goes on. "Such a terrain made guerrilla warfare in Egypt impossible and, as a result, forced the inhabitants of this valley to submit to the central government and to be exploited as workers and compelled them to be recruited into its army." [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: "Zawahiri travelled to Peshawar with an anesthesiologist and a plastic surgeon. "We were the first three Arabs to arrive there to participate in relief work," he writes. He spent four months in Pakistan, working for the Red Crescent Society, the Islamic arm of the Red Cross. When Zawahiri arrived” in Peshawar “it was teeming with arms merchants and opium dealers. Young men from other Muslim countries were beginning to hear the call of jihad, and they came to Peshawar, often with nothing more than a phone number in their pockets, and sometimes without even that. Their goal was to become shaheed—a martyr—and they asked only to be pointed in the direction of the war. Osama bin Laden was one of the first to arrive. He spent much of his time shuttling between Peshawar and Saudi Arabia, raising money for the cause. [Ibid]

The city also had to cope with the influx of uprooted and starving Afghans. By the end of 1980, there were 1.4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan—a number that nearly doubled the following year—and almost all of them came through Peshawar, seeking shelter in nearby camps. Many of the refugees were casualties of Soviet land mines or of the intensive bombing of towns and cities. The conditions in the clinics and hospitals were appalling. Zawahiri reported home that he sometimes had to use honey to sterilize wounds. He made several trips across the border into Afghanistan. "Tribesmen took Ayman over the border," Omar Azzam told me. He was one of the first outsiders to witness the courage of the Afghan fighters, who were defending themselves on foot or on horseback with First World War carbines. American Stinger missiles would not be delivered until 1986, and Eastern-bloc weapons that the C.I.A. had smuggled in were not yet in the hands of the fighters. But the mujahideen already sensed that they were becoming pawns in the superpowers' game.[Ibid]

 Mujahideen prayer

  That fall, Zawahiri returned to Cairo full of stories about the "miracles" that were taking place in the jihad against the Soviets. When Schleifer called on Zawahiri... he was surprised by his manner. "He started off by saying that the Americans were the real enemy and had to be confronted," Schleifer told me. "I said, 'I don't understand. You just came back from Afghanistan, where you're coöperating with the Americans. Now you're saying America is the enemy?' " [Ibid]

"Sure, we're taking American help to fight the Russians," Zawahiri replied. "But they're equally evil." "How can you make such a comparison?" Schleifer said. "There is more freedom to practice Islam in America than here in Egypt. And in Afghanistan the Soviets closed down fifty thousand mosques!" Schleifer recalls, "The conversation ended on a bad note. In our previous debates, it was always eye to eye, and you could break the tension with a joke. Now I felt that he wasn't talking to me; he was addressing a mass rally of a hundred thousand people. It was all rhetoric." [Ibid]

In March of 1981, Zawahiri returned to Peshawar for another tour of duty with the Red Crescent Society. This time, he cut short his stay and returned to Cairo after two months. He wrote in his memoir that he regarded the Afghan jihad as "a training course of the utmost importance to prepare the Muslim mujahideen to wage their awaited battle against the superpower that now has sole dominance over the globe, namely, the United States." [Ibid]

Zawahiri Returns to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1986

Pakistan-Afghanistan border area

  Zawahiri returned to Peshawar in 1986. 

Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “Peshawar had changed in the five years since Zawahiri had last been there. The city was congested and rife with corruption. Camels contended in the narrow streets with armored vehicles, pickups with oversized wheels, and late-model luxury cars. As many as two million refugees had flooded into the North-West Frontier Province, turning Peshawar, the capital, into the prime staging area for the resistance. The United States was contributing approximately two hundred and fifty million dollars a year to the war, and the Pakistani intelligence service was distributing arms to the numerous Afghan warlords, who all maintained offices in Peshawar. A new stream of American and Pakistani military advisers had arrived to train the mujahideen. Aid workers and freelance mullahs and intelligence agents from around the world had set up shop. "Peshawar was transformed into this place where whoever had no place to go went," says Osama Rushdi, a former emir in a university branch of the Islamic Group, who is now a political refugee in Holland. "It was an environment in which a person could go from a bad place to a worse place, and eventually into despair." [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]
“Across the Khyber Pass was the war. Many of the young Arabs who came to Peshawar prayed that their crossing would lead them to martyrdom and then to Paradise. Many were political fugitives from their own countries, and, as stateless people, they naturally turned against the very idea of a state. They saw themselves as a great borderless posse whose mission was to defend the entire Muslim people. This army of so-called Afghan Arabs soon became legendary throughout the Islamic world. Some experts have estimated that as many as fifty thousand Arabs passed through Afghanistan during the war against the Soviets. However, Abdullah Anas, an Algerian mujahid who married one of Abdullah Azzam's daughters, says that there were never more than three thousand Arabs in Afghanistan, and that most of them were drivers, secretaries, and cooks, not warriors. The war was fought almost entirely by the Afghans, not the Arabs, he told me. According to Hany al-Sibai, an alleged leader of Jihad (he denies it) now living in exile, there were only some five hundred Egyptians. "They were known as the thinkers and the brains," Sibai said. "The Islamist movement started with them." [Ibid]

“Zawahiri's brother Mohammed, who had loyally followed him since childhood, joined him in Peshawar. The brothers had a strong family resemblance, though Mohammed was slightly taller and thinner than Ayman. Another colleague from the underground days in Cairo, a physician named Sayyid Imam, arrived, and in 1987, according to Egyptian intelligence, the three men reorganized Islamic Jihad. They began recruiting new members from the Egyptian mujahideen. Before long, representatives of the Islamic Group appeared on the scene, and once again the old rivalry flared up. Osama Rushdi, who had known Zawahiri in prison, told me that he was shocked by the changes he found in him. In Egypt, Zawahiri had struck him as polite and modest. "Now he was very antagonistic toward others," Rushdi recalled. "He talked badly about the other groups and wrote books against them. In discussions, he started to take things in a weird way. He would have strong opinions without any sense of logic." [Ibid]

“Zawahiri's wife, Azza, set up house in Peshawar. Azza's mother, Nabila Galal, says that she visited her daughter in Pakistan three times, the last time in 1990. "They were an unusually close family and always moved together as one unit," she told a reporter for the Egyptian magazine Akher Saa in December, 2001. While Zawahiri was in prison after the assassination of Sadat, Nabila took care of Azza and her first child, Fatima, who was born in 1981. She visited Azza again a few years later, in Saudi Arabia, to attend the birth of Umayma, who was named after Zawahiri's mother. "One day, I got a letter from Azza, and I felt intense pain as I read the words," Nabila recalled. "She wrote that she was to travel to Pakistan with her husband. I wished that she would not go there, but I knew that nobody can prevent fate. She was well aware of the rights her husband held over her and her duty toward him, which is why she was to follow him to the ends of the earth." [Ibid]

Mujahideen fighter with with Enfield rifle in 1985

  “In Pakistan, Azza gave birth to another daughter, Nabila, in 1986. A fourth daughter, Khadiga, arrived the following year, and in 1988 the Zawahiris' only son, Mohammed, was born. Nearly ten years later, in 1997, another daughter, Aisha, arrived. "Azza and her family lived a good life in Peshawar," her brother Essam told me. "They had a two-story villa with three or four bedrooms upstairs. One of the rooms was always available for visitors—and they had a lot of visitors. If they had money left over, they gave it to the needy. They were happy with very little." [Ibid]
“The Egyptian filmmaker Essam Deraz, who worked in Afghanistan between 1986 and 1988, received special permission to visit the mujahideen's main base camp in a complex of caves in the Hindu Kush mountains known as Masaada (the Lion's Den). "It was snowing when we arrived at the Lion's Den," Deraz told me. "The Arabs hated anybody with cameras, because of their concern for security, so they stopped me from entering the cave. I was with my crew, and we were standing outside in the snow until I couldn't move my legs. Finally, one of the Arabs said that I could come in but my crew must stay out. I said, 'Either we all come in or we all stay out.' They disappeared and came back with Dr. Abdel Mu'iz." (The name was Zawahiri's nom de guerre. In Arabic, Abdel means "slave," and Mu'iz, one of the ninety-nine names of God, means "bestower of honor.") The man who called himself Dr. Abdel Mu'iz insisted that Deraz and his crew come into the cave, where he served them tea and bread. "He was very polite and very refined," Deraz said. "I could tell that he was from a good background by the way he apologized for keeping us outside." That night, Deraz slept on the floor of the cave, next to Zawahiri.”

Abdullah Azzam

Abdullah Azzam

  A key to Osama bin Laden’s transformation into a committed jihadist, Peter Bergen wrote in Vanity Fair “was his encounter with the charismatic Palestinian cleric Abdullah Azzam. Azzam was the critical force both ideologically and organizationally for the recruitment of Muslims from around the world to engage in the Afghan struggle against the Soviets.

Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “ In the mid-eighties, the dominant Arab in the war against the Soviets was Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian theologian who had a doctorate in Islamic law from Al-Azhar University. (He is not related to the Azzam family of Zawahiri's mother.) Azzam went on to teach at King Abdul Aziz University, in Jidda, where one of his students was Osama bin Laden. As soon as Azzam heard about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, he moved to Pakistan. He became the gatekeeper of jihad and its main fund-raiser. His formula for victory was "Jihad and the rifle alone: no negotiations, no conferences, and no dialogues." [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]
Many of the qualities that people now attribute to bin Laden were seen earlier in Abdullah Azzam, who became his mentor. Azzam was the embodiment of the holy warrior, which, in the Muslim world, is as popular a heroic stereotype as the samurai in Japan or the Hollywood cowboy in America. His long beard was vividly black in the middle and white on either side, and whenever he talked about the war his gaze seemed to focus on some glorious interior vision. "I reached Afghanistan and could not believe my eyes," Azzam says in a recruitment video, produced in 1988, as he holds an AK-47 rifle in his lap. "I travelled to acquaint people with jihad for years. . . . We were trying to satisfy the thirst for martyrdom. We are still in love with this." Azzam was a frequent speaker at Muslim rallies, even in the United States, where he came to raise money, and he often appeared on Saudi television. Generous and elaborately polite, Azzam opened his home in Peshawar to many of the young men, mostly Arabs, who had heeded his fatwa for all Muslims to rally against the Soviet invader. When bin Laden first came to Peshawar, he stayed at Azzam's guesthouse. Together, they set up the Maktab al-Khadamat, or Services Bureau, to recruit and train resistance fighters.

Osama bin Laden Breaks with Abdullah Azzam and Bonds with al-Zawahiri

Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in the 1980s

  Peter Bergen wrote in Vanity Fair: “Bin Laden’s military ambitions and personality evolved in tandem. He became more assertive, to the point that he ignored the advice of many old friends about the folly of setting up his own military force. That decision also precipitated an irrevocable (but carefully concealed) split with his onetime mentor, Abdullah Azzam. [Source: Peter Bergen, Vanity Fair, January 2006]

Hutaifa Azzam told Bergen: “You could say that bin Laden separated from my father in 1987. Bin Laden said that he wanted to make special camps for the Arabs only, where we can start our own jihad and we give the orders. We will gather all the Arabs in Afghanistan in one area in Jalalabad [in eastern Afghanistan]. My father was against that. He was shocked. So in 1987, Osama decided to separate and create special camps for the Arabs.” [Ibid]

Bergen wrote” It was not an accident that bin Laden’s split from Abdullah Azzam began around the time of his first meeting with the Egyptian jihadist Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, in 1986. For bin Laden, the slightly older, cerebral Zawahiri (a surgeon by training) must have presented an intriguing figure. Zawahiri had first joined a jihadist group at 15 and had recently served three years in Egypt’s notorious prisons for his jihadist activities. For Zawahiri, bin Laden was on his way to becoming a genuine war hero, and his deep pockets were well known. In 1987, Zawahiri set up his own jihad group, which was soon supported by bin Laden.

Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “Unlike the other leaders of the mujahideen, Zawahiri did not pledge himself to Sheikh Abdullah Azzam when he arrived in Afghanistan; from the start, he concentrated his efforts on getting close to bin Laden. He soon succeeded in placing trusted members of Islamic Jihad in key positions around bin Laden. According to the Islamist attorney Montasser al-Zayat, "Zawahiri completely controlled bin Laden. The largest share of bin Laden's financial support went to Zawahiri and the Jihad organization, while he supported the Islamic Group only with tiny morsels." [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

“Zawahiri must have recognized—perhaps even before bin Laden himself did—that the future of the Islamic movement lay with "this heaven-sent man," as Abdullah Azzam called bin Laden. Azzam soon felt the gravitational force of Zawahiri's influence over his protégé. "I don't know what some people are doing here in Peshawar," Azzam complained to his son-in-law Abdullah Anas. "They are talking against the mujahideen. They have only one point, to create fitna"—discord—"between me and these volunteers." He singled out Zawahiri as one of the troublemakers. [Ibid]

“Bin Laden's final break with Abdullah Azzam came in a dispute over the scope of jihad. Bin Laden envisioned an all-Arab legion, which eventually could be used to wage jihad in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Sheikh Abdullah strongly opposed making war against fellow-Muslims. Zawahiri undermined Azzam's position by spreading rumors that he was a spy. "Zawahiri said he believed that Abdullah Azzam was working for the Americans," Osama Rushdi told me. "Sheikh Abdullah was killed that same night." On November 24, 1989, Azzam and two of his sons were blown up by a car bomb as they were driving to al-Falah Mosque in Peshawar. Although no one claimed credit for the killings, many have been blamed, including Zawahiri himself, and even bin Laden.“ It was the second Azzam’s life in a month.. At Azzam's funeral, Zawahiri delivered a eulogy. [Ibid]

Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden in the 1990s

  Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri is believed to have been connected with Osama bin Laden since 1985, when the two men met in Pakistan during the Afghanistan War. Zawahiri is credited by some with making bin-Laden an Islamic radical with a global agenda. Fluent in English, he sometimes acted as an interpreter for bin Laden. Peter Bergen wrote in Vanity Fair: For bin Laden, the slightly older, cerebral Zawahiri must have presented an intriguing figure. Zawahiri had first joined a jihadist group at 15 and had recently served three years in Egypt’s notorious prisons for his jihadist activities. For Zawahiri, bin Laden was on his way to becoming a genuine war hero, and his deep pockets were well known. In 1987, Zawahiri set up his own jihad group, which was soon supported by bin Laden. [Source: Peter Bergen, Vanity Fair, January 2006]

Lawrence Wright, “Each man filled a need on the other. Zawahiri wanted money and contacts...Bin laden, an idealist given to causes, sought direction. Zawahiri, a seasoned propagandist, supplied it...For Zawahiri, bin Laden was a savior—rich and generous, with nearly limitless resources, but also pliable and politically unformed.”

Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “Osama bin Laden, who was based in Jidda, was twenty-eight and had lived a life of boundless wealth and pleasure. His family's company, the multinational and broadly diversified Saudi Binladin Group, was one of the largest companies in the Middle East. Osama was a wan and gangly young man—he is estimated to be six feet five inches—and was by no means perceived to be the charismatic leader he would eventually become. He lacked the underground experience that Zawahiri had and, apart from his religious devotion, had few settled beliefs. But he had been radicalized by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and he had already raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the mujahideen resistance. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

"Bin Laden had followers, but they weren't organized,"Essam Deraz, an Egyptian filmmaker who made several documentaries about the mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan war, told Wright. "The people with Zawahiri had extraordinary capabilities—doctors, engineers, soldiers. They had experience in secret work. They knew how to organize themselves and create cells. And they became the leaders." "Bin Laden had an Islamic frame of reference, but he didn't have anything against the Arab regimes," Montasser al-Zayat, an Islamist lawyer told Wright. "When Ayman met bin Laden, he created a revolution inside him." [Ibid]

Deraz observed that bin Laden had become dependent on Zawahiri's medical care. "Bin Laden had low blood pressure, and sometimes he would get dizzy and have to lie down," Deraz told Wright. "Ayman came from Peshawar to treat him. He would give him a checkup and then leave to go fight." Deraz recalls that, during one of the most intense battles of the war, he and the two men were huddled in a cave near Jalalabad with a group of fighters. "The bombing was very heavy," Deraz said. "Bin Laden had his arm stretched out, and Zawahiri was preparing to give him glucose. Whenever the doctor was about to insert the needle, there was a bombing and we would all hit the ground. When the bombing stopped for a while, Zawahiri got up and set up the glucose stand, but as soon as he picked up the bottle there would be another bombing. So one person said, 'Don't you see? Every time you pick up the bottle, we are bombed.' And another said, 'In Islam, it is forbidden to be pessimistic,' but then it happened again. So the pessimistic one got up very slowly and threw the glucose bottle out of the cave. We all laughed. Even bin Laden was laughing." [Ibid]

Zawahiri in Sudan and the United States


  Zawahiri later followed bin Laden to Sudan. Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “Zawahiri's relatives expected him to return to Egypt; throughout the Soviet-Afghan war and for several years afterward, he continued to pay rent on his clinic in Maadi. But he felt that it was not safe for him to return. Eventually, he followed bin Laden to Sudan. There he placed himself under the protection of the philosopher king of Islamist ideologues, Hassan al-Tourabi, a graduate of the University of London and the Sorbonne, who was instituting Sharia and trying to establish in Sudan the ideal Islamic republic that Zawahiri and bin Laden longed for in their countries. In Khartoum, Zawahiri set about reorganizing Islamic Jihad. Jamal al-Fadl said in his testimony in New York that Zawahiri gave him two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to buy a farm north of the Sudan capital, where members of Jihad could receive military training. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

In the early 1990s, Zawahiri entered the United States with a false passport for a brief fund-raising trip. In 1996 he visited Australia to find new recruits and sources of money. Wright wrote in The New Yorker, “Zawahiri decided to look for money in the world center of venture capitalism—Silicon Valley. He had been to America once before, in 1989, when he paid a recruiting visit to the mujahideen's Services Bureau branch office in Brooklyn. According to the F.B.I., he returned in the spring of 1993, this time to Santa Clara, California, where he was greeted by Ali Mohamed, the double agent. Mohamed introduced him to Dr. Ali Zaki, a gynecologist and a prominent civic leader in San Jose. Zaki disputes the F.B.I.'s date of the visit, maintaining that Zawahiri's trip to Silicon Valley took place in 1989, a few years after President Reagan compared the mujahideen to America's founding fathers. People at the F.B.I., however, told me that Zawahiri arrived in America shortly after the first bombing of the World Trade Center. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

“In any event, Zaki claims not to remember much about Zawahiri. "He came as a representative of the Red Crescent of Kuwait," Zaki said. "I was also a physician, so they asked me to accompany him while he was here." He met Zawahiri at the Al-Nur Mosque in Santa Clara after evening prayers, and he escorted him to mosques in Sacramento and Stockton. The two doctors spent most of their time discussing medical problems that Zawahiri encountered in Afghanistan. "We talked about the children and the farmers who were injured and were missing limbs because of all the Russian mines," Zaki recalled. "He was a well-balanced, highly educated physician." But financially the trip was not a success. Zaki says that, at most, the donations produced by these visits to the California mosques amounted to several hundred dollars. Immediately after this dispiriting trip, Zawahiri began working more closely with bin Laden, and most of the Egyptian members of Islamic Jihad went on the Al Qaeda payroll. [Ibid]

“During the early nineties, Zawahiri travelled tirelessly, setting up training camps and establishing cells. During this period, he is reported to have visited the Balkans, Austria, Dagestan, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, the Philippines, and even Argentina, often using a false passport. He was particularly engaged by the war in Bosnia, because the country was home to one of the largest Islamic populations in Europe. [Ibid]

Zawahiri’s and Islamic Jihad’s "Terrorist" Activities in Egypt

Flag of jihad

  Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “Sudan seemed an ideal spot from which to launch attacks on Egypt. The active coöperation of Sudan's intelligence agency and its military forces provided a safe harbor for the militants. The long, trackless, and almost entirely unguarded border between the two countries facilitated secret movements; and ancient caravan trails provided convenient routes for smuggling weapons and explosives into Egypt on the backs of camels. Iran supplied many of the weapons, and the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah provided training in the use of explosives. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

“Islamic Jihad began its assault on Egypt with an attempt on the life of the Interior Minister, who was leading the crackdown on Islamic militants. In August of 1993, a bomb-laden motorcycle exploded next to the minister's car, killing the bomber and his accomplice. "The minister escaped death, but his arm was broken," Zawahiri writes in his memoir. "A pile of files that he kept next to him saved his life from the shrapnel." The following November, Zawahiri's men tried to kill Egypt's Prime Minister with a car bomb as he was being driven past a girls' school in Cairo. The bomb missed its target, but the explosion injured twenty-one people and killed a twelve-year-old schoolgirl, Shayma Abdel-Halim, who was crushed by a door blown loose in the blast. Her death outraged Egyptians, who had seen more than two hundred and forty people killed by terrorists in the previous two years. As Shayma's coffin was borne through the streets of Cairo people cried, "Terrorism is the enemy of God!" [Ibid]

“Zawahiri was shaken by the popular outrage. "The unintended death of this innocent child pained us all, but we were helpless and we had to fight the government, which was against God's Sharia and supported God's enemies," he notes in his memoir. He offered what amounted to blood money to the girl's family. The Egyptian government arrested two hundred and eighty of his followers; six were eventually given a sentence of death. Zawahiri writes, "This meant that they wanted my daughter, who was two at the time, and the daughters of other colleagues, to be orphans. Who cried or cared for our daughters?" [Ibid]

“Zawahiri was a pioneer in the use of suicide bombers, which became a signature of Jihad assassinations. The strategy broke powerful religious taboos against suicide and the murder of innocents. (For these reasons, the Islamic Group preferred to work with guns and knives.) Although Hezbollah employed truck bombers to attack the American Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, such martyrdom operations had not yet worked their way into the modern vocabulary of terror. In Palestine, suicide bombings were virtually unknown until the mid-nineties, when the Oslo accords began to unravel. Another of Zawahiri's innovations was to tape the bomber's vows of martyrdom on the eve of the mission. [Ibid]

Obsessed with secrecy, Zawahiri imposed a blind-cell structure on the Jihad organization, so that members in one group would not know the activities or personnel in another. Thus, a security breach in one cell should not compromise other units, and certainly not the entire organization.

Al-Zawahiri is believed to have heavily involved in the 1995 bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan which left 15 dead and 60 injured and terrorist operations. He has been sentenced to death in absentia in 1999 by the Egyptian government for organizing terrorist camps and trying to incite uprisings and assassinate top officials,

Attempt to Assassinate (FREEMASON DICTATOR) Mubarak and Crackdown on Islamic Jihad in Egypt


  Lawrence Wright wrote un The New Yorker: “In 1993, Egyptian authorities arrested Jihad's membership director, Ismail Nassir. "He had a computer containing the entire database," Osama Rushdi, a former member of the Islamic Group, told me. "Where the member lived, which home he might be hiding in, even what names he uses with false passports." Supplied with this information, the Egyptian security forces pulled in a thousand suspects and placed more than three hundred of them on trial in military courts on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. The evidence was thin, but, then, the judicial standards weren't very rigorous. "It was all staged," Hisham Kassem, the publisher of the Cairo Times and the president of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, told me. "The ones you think are dangerous, you hang. The rest, you give them life sentences." Under Zawahiri's leadership, Islamic Jihad had succeeded, unintentionally, in assassinating the Speaker of Parliament, in 1990—the intended target was the Interior Minister—and in killing a schoolgirl. In the process, the organization lost almost its entire Egyptian base. If Islamic Jihad was to survive, it would have to be outside Egypt. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

“Both Jihad and the Islamic Group had been decimated by defections and arrests. The Group's leader, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, had emigrated to the United States, and was arrested following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He and nine followers were convicted in 1996 of conspiring to destroy New York landmarks, including the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the Federal Building, and the United Nations headquarters. In April of 1995, Zawahiri chaired a meeting in Khartoum attended by the remaining members of the two organizations, along with representatives of other terrorist groups. They agreed on a spectacular act: the assassination of the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak. It was a dangerous bet for the Islamists. The attack was carried out in June in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Mubarak was on a state visit. There was a shootout between Mubarak's bodyguards and the assassins; two Ethiopian policemen were killed, but Mubarak escaped unharmed. [Ibid]

“The Egyptian government responded with a furious determination to finish off Islamic Jihad. "The security forces used exemplary punishment," Hisham Kassem told me. "They torched houses in a village because a member of Jihad had come from there. A mother would be stripped naked in front of a guy, who was told, 'Next time we'll rape her if your younger brother is not here.' " A recently instituted anti-terrorism law had made it a crime even to express sympathy for terrorist movements. Five new prisons were being built to hold political prisoners. (Human-rights organizations estimate the number of Islamists still incarcerated in Egypt at fifteen thousand; Islamists put the figure at sixty thousand. Many of the prisoners have never been charged with any specific crime, and some have simply "disappeared.") [Ibid]

“Zawahiri's response to the crackdown was to blow up the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. On November 19, 1995, two cars filled with explosives crashed through the embassy gates, killing the bombers and sixteen other people. Sixty were wounded. This act of mass murder was Jihad's first success under Zawahiri's administration. "The bomb left the embassy's ruined building as an eloquent and clear message," Zawahiri boasts in his memoir. [Ibid]

Zawahiri gets "Kicked Out" of Sudan

Khartoum backstreet

Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “Zawahiri and bin Laden might have remained in the sanctuary of the Sudan had it not been for the determination of the Egyptian and Saudi intelligence services to kill them before they caused any more trouble...After the bombing of the embassy in Pakistan, Egyptian intelligence agents devised a fiendish plan. They lured an Egyptian boy, the son of one of bin Laden's accountants, into a room, and drugged and sodomized him, photographing the scene. Yasser al-Sirri, an alleged member of Islamic Jihad who had met Zawahiri in Khartoum, told me that the Egyptian agents blackmailed the boy, who was thirteen or fourteen, into working for them, and then persuaded him to lure another boy into the intelligence network, using the same method of sexual entrapment. The agents taught the boys how to plant microphones in their own homes, a ploy that yielded valuable information, and led to the arrest of Jihad members. The agents gave the accountant's son a suitcase filled with explosives, which he was to leave near a place where Zawahiri was expected to meet some of his colleagues. The plan failed when Sudanese intelligence agents spotted the boy in the company of Egyptian Embassy personnel. They arrested him while he was holding the suitcase. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

"The Sudanese captured the other boy and put them both in jail," Hany al-Sibai, who has become a kind of historian of the Islamist movement, told me. "Most of the Islamic groups were in Sudan, so the rumors about the story were huge. The Jihad organization considered the whole thing a scandal for them." Zawahiri went to the Sudanese authorities and asked that the boys be temporarily released from jail so that he could interrogate them. He promised to return them safely. The Sudanese, who were now dependent on bin Laden's financial generosity, agreed. Zawahiri convened an Islamic court, put the boys on trial for treason, convicted them, and had them executed, to make an example of them. In a characteristic gesture, he made a tape of their confessions and had it distributed as a warning to others who might betray the organization. "Many Islamists turned against Zawahiri because of this," Yasser al-Sirri told me. [Ibid]

“The Sudanese, furious at Zawahiri's duplicity, and also under intense pressure from the United States and Saudi Arabia to stop harboring terrorists, decided to expel Zawahiri and bin Laden and their followers. According to Hany al-Sibai, the Sudanese did not even give them time to pack. "All we did was to apply God's Sharia," Zawahiri complained. "If we fail to apply it to ourselves, then how can we apply it to others?" The expulsion from Sudan reportedly cost him three hundred million dollars in lost investments.

Zawahiri in Switzerland and Russia

Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker, Zawahiri's next movements after his expulsion from Sudan are unclear. “He was tracked by Egyptian intelligence agents in Switzerland and Sarajevo, and he allegedly sought asylum in Bulgaria. An Egyptian newspaper reported that Zawahiri had gone to live in luxury in a Swiss villa near the French border, and that he had thirty million dollars in a secret account. Zawahiri did claim on several occasions to have lived in Switzerland, but the Swiss say they have no evidence that he was ever in the country, much less that he was granted asylum. He turned up briefly in Holland, which does not have an extradition treaty with Egypt. He had talks there about establishing a satellite television channel, backed by wealthy Arabs, that would provide a fundamentalist alternative to the Al Jazeera network, which had recently been launched in Qatar. Zawahiri's plan was to broadcast ten hours a day to Europe and the Middle East, using only male presenters. Nothing came of the idea. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]

“A memo that Zawahiri later wrote to his colleagues—it was "recovered from an Al Qaeda computer obtained by a Wall Street Journal reporter after the fall of the Taliban*"—reveals that in December of 1996 he was on his way to Chechnya to establish a new home base for the remnants of Islamic Jihad. "Conditions there were excellent," he wrote in the memo. The Russians had begun to withdraw from Chechnya earlier that year after achieving a ceasefire with the rebellious region. To the Islamists, Chechnya offered an opportunity to create an Islamic republic in the Caucasus, from which they could wage jihad throughout Central Asia. [Ibid]

“Soon after Zawahiri and two of his top lieutenants, Ahmad Salama Mabruk and Mahmud Hisham al-Hennawi, crossed into the Russian province of Dagestan, they were arrested for entering the country illegally. The Russians discovered, among other documents, false identity papers, including a Sudanese passport that Zawahiri sometimes used. Zawahiri's passport indicated that he had been to Yemen four times, Malaysia three times, Singapore twice, and China (probably Taiwan) once—all within the previous twenty months. At the trial, in April, 1997, Zawahiri insisted that he had come to Russia "to find out the price for leather, medicine, and other goods." He said he was unaware that he was crossing the border illegally. The judge sentenced the three men to six months in jail. They had nearly completed the term by the time of the trial, and the following month they were released. "God blinded them to our identities," Zawahiri boasted in the account of his trip. [Ibid]
“Once again, his disgruntled followers chastised him for his carelessness. An e-mail from colleagues in Yemen referred to the Russia adventure as "a disaster that almost destroyed the group." A measure of bin Laden's feelings about Zawahiri's mishaps was that he gave Jihad only five thousand dollars during the leader's absence. Jihad had been crushed in Egypt and run out of Sudan, and the organization's hardships were having personal consequences as well. Zawahiri confided to colleagues that he had developed an ulcer. [Ibid]

Zawahiri’s Returns to Afghanistan in the 1990s and Steps Up His Position in Al-Qaida

Zhawar Kili Al-Badr Camp
an Al-Qaida camp in Afghanistan
Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: After the fiasco in Russia, Zawahiri and his family had no alternative but to join bin Laden in Jalalabad, a military center that had become the new headquarters for Al Qaeda. Islamists from all over the world were pouring into the camps that bin Laden had established in the surrounding Hindu Kush mountains. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]
“Zawahiri formally sealed his new alliance with bin Laden on February 23, 1998, when Zawahiri's name appeared as one of the signatories on a document published in Al-Quds al-Arabi. The document announced the formation of the International Islamic Front for Jihad on the Jews and Crusaders. "In compliance with God's order," the text read, "we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilian and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it." Included in the alliance were jihad groups in Afghanistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Pakistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Chechnya, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Azerbaijan, and Palestine. The document gave the West its first glimpse of the worldwide conspiracy that was beginning to form. [Ibid]
Many members of Islamic Jihad were wary of bin Laden's designs on the "distant enemy." Zawahiri called a meeting of Islamic Jihad in Afghanistan to explain the new global organization, but there was so much resistance that he threatened to resign. "The members were shocked that their leader joined without asking them," Hany al-Sibai told me. "Only a few, who could be counted on the fingers, supported it." [Ibid]

Divisions and Attacks on Islamic Jihad as It Bonds with Al-Qaida and Focus on America

Translation of Al-Qaida document
"Get the Idolaters Out of Arab Island"
Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “Zawahiri's brother Mohammed, the military commander of Islamic Jihad, had long been a controversial figure in the group, and yet he remained a fixture in the hierarchy of the "company," as the Jihad members called themselves. The two brothers had been together from their underground days. They had sometimes been at odds with each other—on one occasion, Ayman went so far as to denounce Mohammed in front of his colleagues for mismanaging the group's meagre finances. But Mohammed was popular among many of the members, and, as deputy emir, he had run the organization whenever Ayman was travelling. According to Sibai, Mohammed refused to accept the alliance with Al Qaeda, and he left Islamic Jihad not long after the meeting in Afghanistan. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]
“Several members of the Islamic Group tried to have Sheikh Omar named emir of the Islamic Front, but the proposal was brushed aside. Clearly, bin Laden had had enough of the fighting between the Egyptian factions. He told members of Jihad that their ineffectual operations in Egypt were too expensive, and that it was time for them to "turn their guns" on the United States and Israel. Zawahiri's assistant Ahmed al-Najjar later told Egyptian investigators, "I myself heard bin Laden say that our main objective is now limited to one state only, the United States, and involves waging a guerrilla war against all U.S. interests, not only in the Arab region but also throughout the world."Since the early nineties, Egyptian authorities had felt stymied in their efforts to stamp out Islamic fundamentalists by the protection that Western governments afforded fugitives. The Egyptians complained that more than five hundred terrorists had found refuge in England, France, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, and the United States, among other countries, on the ground that they would be subject to political persecution and perhaps torture if they were sent home. Many European governments refused to return a suspect to face a trial in which he might receive the death penalty. [Ibid]
“After years of fending off criticism of his leadership, Zawahiri resigned as the emir of Islamic Jihad in the summer of 1999. He was angry at the Jihad members who found fault with him from comfortable perches in Europe. He disdainfully called them "the hot-blooded revolutionary strugglers who have now become as cold as ice after they experienced the life of civilization and luxury, the guarantees of the new world order, the gallant ethics of civilized Europe, and the impartiality and materialism of Western civilization." Many of his former allies, exhausted and demoralized by years of setbacks, had become advocates of an initiative by Islamist leaders imprisoned in Egypt, who had declared a unilateral ceasefire. Those who remained loyal to the movement no longer wanted to endure the primitive living conditions in Afghanistan. Yet, even as the organization was disintegrating, Zawahiri rejected any thought of negotiation with the Egyptian regime or with the West. But without his leadership Islamic Jihad was adrift, and several months after he resigned his successor relinquished the post. Zawahiri was back in charge. According to testimony given at the trial of the Albanian cell members, however, the membership of Islamic Jihad outside Egypt had diminished to forty.” [Ibid]
“Zawahiri's continual efforts to maintain a semblance of autonomy ended in June, 2001, when Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda merged into a single entity, Qaeda al-Jihad. The name reflected the fact that the Egyptians were still in control; indeed, the nine-member leadership council includes only three non-Egyptians—most prominently, bin Laden. Within the organization, the dominance of the Egyptians has been a subject of contention, especially among the Saudis. According to an American investigator, bin Laden has tried to mollify the malcontents by explaining that he can always count on the Egyptians, since they are unable to go home without being arrested; like him, they are men without a country. [Ibid]

Zawahiri’s Input on the African Embassy and USS Cole Attacks

Nairobi Embassy bombing
Al-Zawahiri is thought to have helped organize the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen. He is believed to have heavily involved in the planning of the September 11th attacks and the 1998 bombing of the embassy in Kenya and Tanzania.
Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “According to officials in the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., Zawahiri has been responsible for much of the planning of the terrorist operations against the United States, from the assault on American soldiers in Somalia in 1993, and the bombings of the American embassies in East Africa in 1998 and of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000, to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th.” [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]
“The suicide bombings of the American embassies in East Africa were planned and executed, in large part, by Egyptian members of Al Qaeda... On October 12, 2000, Al Qaeda bombed the U.S.S. Cole, one of the Navy's most advanced destroyers, in Aden, Yemen. By now, American intelligence knew enough about Zawahiri to realize that he was in charge of the Yemen cell. He was also closely affiliated with the Saudi terrorist Tawifiq bin Atash, who is now thought to have been the planner of that operation. Moreover, the C.I.A. believes that Atash was one of the chief organizers of the September 11th attacks.”

Zawahiri and Biological and Chemical Weapons

Al-Zawahiri may have been directly involved in Al-Qaida’s biological weapons program. His house in Kabul contained a laboratory with explosives, blasting caps, electronic components and “various solid and liquid substances,” including fine, silvery powders in jars and mysterious liquids in shampoo bottles labeled special medicine. One sample turned up a “positive indicator” for anthrax.

BpsMH, "potential biological weapon"

  Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “As a man of science, Zawahiri was interested in the use of biological and chemical warfare. In a memo from April of 1999, he observed that "the destructive power of these weapons is no less than that of nuclear weapons," and proposed that Islamic Jihad conduct research into biological and chemical agents. "Despite their extreme danger, we only became aware of them when the enemy drew our attention to them by repeatedly expressing concern that they can be produced simply," he noted. He pored over medical journals to research the subject, and he met with an Egyptian scientist in Afghanistan, Medhat Mursi al-Sayed, whose Jihad name was Abu Khabab. [Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]
“ C.I.A. officials believe that Khabab prepared the explosives for the bomb that hit the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. Khabab supervised elementary tests of nerve gas; satellite photos purportedly show corpses of dogs scattered about one of the camps near Tora Bora, and Al Qaeda training videos recently acquired by CNN show that poison gas had been tested on dogs. "We knew from hundreds of different sources that Al Qaeda was interested in biological and chemical weapons," says Richard A. Clarke, who was the Clinton Administration's national coördinator for counterterrorism in the National Security Council and is now in charge of cybersecurity for the N.S.C. Clarke told me that in one of the camps human volunteers, wearing protective clothing, were exposed to chemicals in tests similar to ones that the U.S. Army has conducted. “ [Ibid]
During the invasion of Afghanistan, American forces discovered a factory under construction, near Kandahar, that intelligence officials say was to be used for the production of anthrax. A sample of anthrax powder was reportedly found in Zawahiri's house in Afghanistan. According to reports from Israel and Russia, bin Laden paid Chechen mobsters millions of dollars in cash and heroin to obtain radiological "suitcase" bombs left over from the Soviets. He declared in November, 2001, "We have chemical and nuclear weapons," and vowed to use them "if America used them against us."

Zawahiri and American Intelligence

Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker: “One of Zawahiri's most trusted men was in fact a double agent, named Ali Mohamed. Fluent in English, French, and German, as well as Arabic, Mohamed held both Egyptian and American citizenship. From 1986 to 1989, he served in the U.S. Army as a supply sergeant at the Special Warfare School, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he was commended for his exceptional physical fitness. In 1984, Mohamed approached the C.I.A. in Cairo, and after that meeting the agency sent him to Germany. There he made contact with a Hezbollah cell, but apparently he boasted of his C.I.A. connection, and the agency cut him loose. He then began his association with Islamic Jihad. In 1989, he instructed a group of Islamic militants in Brooklyn in basic combat techniques; four years later, some of these militants bombed the World Trade Center. The same year, Mohamed talked to an F.B.I. agent in California and provided American intelligence with its first inside look at Al Qaeda; inexplicably, that interview never found its way to the F.B.I. investigators in New York. In 1994, he travelled to Khartoum to train bin Laden's bodyguards.[Source: Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, September 16, 2002]
“Zawahiri's name had been in American intelligence files at least since the Soviet-Afghan war. The F.B.I. became interested in him after the Islamic Jihad bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, but at that point he was still seen as an Egyptian problem. When Zawahiri signed the alliance with bin Laden, in February, 1998, the Bureau opened a file on him. Then came the suicide bombings of the American embassies in East Africa, which were planned and executed, in large part, by Egyptian members of Al Qaeda. American intelligence agencies now realized that there was not just one leader of the organization. They began regarding Zawahiri as an equal partner with bin Laden in the planning and carrying out of the terrorist agenda. [Ibid]
Osama bin Laden declaration in February 1998 that "to kill Americans” was the “duty of every Muslim,”* Wright wrote, “prompted a new vigilance in the West. The C.I.A., which had sporadically tried to keep track of Islamic Jihad over the years, acted quickly. In July of 1998, American agents kidnapped Ahmad Salama Mabruk and another member of Jihad outside a restaurant in Baku, Azerbaijan. Mabruk's laptop computer turned out to contain vital information about Jihad members in Europe. The same summer, the C.I.A. moved against an Islamic Jihad cell in Tirana, Albania; the cell, with sixteen members, had been created by Mohammed al-Zawahiri in the early nineties. Albanian agents, under C.I.A. supervision, kidnapped five members of the cell, blindfolded them, interrogated them for several days, and then sent the Egyptian members to Cairo. They were put on trial with more than a hundred other suspected terrorists. Their lawyer, Hafez Abu-Saada, maintains that they were tortured. The ordeal produced twenty thousand pages of confessions, and both Zawahiri brothers were given death sentences in absentia. [Ibid]
As these pieces came together, American intelligence worked more closely with its Egyptian counterparts, and the C.I.A., in conjunction with Egyptian authorities, began to target not just Zawahiri but his brothers. In November, 1999, Mohammed's wife, Aliya, with their five children, surrendered to Egyptian authorities in Yemen, saying that her husband had abandoned them. A few months later, according to Islamist sources, Egyptian intelligence kidnapped Mohammed from the United Arab Emirates and took him back to Cairo, where he "disappeared." Aliya allegedly told Egyptian authorities where the youngest Zawahiri brother, Hussein, could be found. Hussein had been arrested several times on suspicion of having ties to Islamic Jihad, but nothing was ever proved against him. In the late nineties, he was employed as an engineer for a Malaysian company called Multidiscovery, which was building electrical plants. According to a senior intelligence officer in the Clinton White House, American agents ordered the kidnapping of Hussein in Malaysia and flew him to Cairo, where he, too, "disappeared." Six months later, he reemerged, in the middle of the night, wearing the same clothes in which he had been abducted. [Ibid]
According to a source in the C.I.A., American agents came close to apprehending Zawahiri a month before September 11th, when he travelled to Yemen for medical treatments. "The Egyptian intelligence service briefed us that he was in a hospital in Sanaa," the person told me. "We sent a few people over there, and they made a colossal screwup. While our guys were conducting a surveillance of the hospital, the guards caught them with their videocameras." The plan was compromised, and Zawahiri returned to Afghanistan. [Ibid]

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons except bin Laden in the 1980s, Time, bin Laden and Zawahiri, Redshirt Alignment blog
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated July 2012

 "to kill Americans” was the “duty of every Muslim,”* 

(Comments of BAFS)


fall of the Taliban*

And in 2013, they (including the Royals) are still murdering "the Taliban"! 

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