The Late Sheikh Abdullah Azzam's Books. Part 2: Remedy for Muslim Victimization
Contributor(s)MILITARY ACADEMY WEST POINT NY COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER
KeywordsHumanities and History
*SHEIKH ABDULLAH AZZAM
OSAMA BIN LADEN
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AbstractSheikh Abdullah Azzam is considered the strategic heart of al-Qaida. His writings and lectures on al-Qaida al-Sulba (the Firm Foundation) form the basis and origins of the organization. Azzam was assassinated on a Peshawar street by a massive car bomb in 1989. He is considered the founding father of the concept of interjecting a rapid reaction force of Arab volunteers into civil wars, crises, and small conflicts involving Muslims. It is not enough to write a single review essay of one of Azzam's 10 books to grasp the span of his influence on al-Qaida. He reinterpreted Islamic history and modern western philosophy to justify the fantasy ideology of al-Qaida and the global Islamist militant movement. He also recruited Usama Bin Laden and brought him into the Soviet-Afghan War. The first review essay covered Azzam's 1983 "fatwa" crafted at the height of the Soviet-Afghan War and endorsed by senior Sunni Muslim clergy, including the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Bin Baz. Azzam postulated that Islam was under assault and that jihad had now become a collective obligation. This essay reviews a book published one year after Azzam's death. It is a collection of his strategic, operational, and tactical views of jihad. Entitled "Jihad Shaab Muslim" ("Jihad of the Muslim Peoples"). It blends modern historical observations of the Soviet-Afghan War with an Islamist militant discourse of the history of the Indian subcontinent, and uses numerous Islamic quotations throughout the text to justify violence as the only remedy to problems in the Muslim world. It is these books and personalities like Sheikh Abdullah Azzam that fuel today's Islamist militant movement. American military planners must first understand and deconstruct Azzam's skewed ideology and strategies to truly understanding the present enemy. Understanding Bin Laden requires an understanding of the long lineage of Islamist militant clerics and theorists, especially Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989 AD).