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6 The Base BY 1986 MILLIONS OF AFGHAN REFUGEES had flooded into Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, turning Peshawar, the capital, into the prime staging area for the jihad against the Soviet invasion. The streets of the city were a welter of languages and national costumes, achieving a strange and exhilarating cosmopolitanism that cast a spell over everyone who passed through it. Aid workers and freelance mullahs and intelligence agents from around the world set up shop. The underground flow of money and arms created an economic boom in a town that had always feasted on contraband. Already the treasures of the Afghan national museum—statuary, precious stones, antiquities, even entire Buddhist temples—were being slipped into the Smugglers' Market, an openly run bazaar on the outskirts of the city, and into the gift shops of the shabby hotels where the throng of international journalists holed up to cover the war. Afghan warlords moved their families into University Town, where the professional class lived among the eucalyptus and the magnolia trees. The warlords became rich by skimming off the subsidies that the Americans and the Saudis were providing. Their murderous rivalries, along with weekly bombings and assassinations by the KGB and KHAD (the Afghan intelligence service), made the death toll of Afghan commanders higher in Peshawar than on the field of battle. In a city that moved around mainly on hand-painted private buses and smoky motorcycle rickshaws that ripped the air like chain saws, suddenly there were new Mercedes Sedans and Toyota Land Cruisers navigating among the donkey carts. The air was a blue soup of diesel smoke. "Peshawar was transformed into this place where whoever had no place to go went," Osama Rushdi, one of the young Egyptian jihadis, remembered. "It 121 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER was an environment in which a person could go from a bad place to a worse place, and eventually into despair." After finishing his contract with the medical clinic in Jeddah in 1986, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri joined the growing Arab community in Peshawar. Rounder now than he had been during his previous visits before his prison years, he boasted that Pakistan was like a "second home" to him, since he had spent time as a child in the country when his maternal grandfather served there as the Egyptian ambassador. He quickly adapted to wearing the shalwar kameez, the traditional long shirt and loose-fitting pants of the region. His brother Mohammed, who had loyally followed him since childhood, joined him in Peshawar. The brothers had a strong family resemblance, though Mohammed was darker and slightly taller and thinner than Ayman. Soft-spoken and deferential, Mohammed set up al-Jihad's financial pipeline, which ran from Cairo to Pakistan via Saudi Arabia. Zawahiri established his medical practice at a Kuwaiti-backed Red Crescent hospital, which, like most of the aid institutions in the city, was dominated by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. They hated him because of a lengthy diatribe he wrote, called Bitter Harvest, in which he attacked the Brothers for collaborating with infidel regimes—that is to say, all Arab governments. He called the Brotherhood "a tool in the hands of tyrants." He demanded that they publicly renounce "constitutions and man-made laws, democracy, elections, and parliament," and declare jihad against the regimes they formerly supported. Privately funded, this handsomely produced book appeared all over Peshawar. "They were available free of charge," one of the Brothers, who was working in Peshawar at the time, recalls. "When you would go to get food, the clerk would ask if you wished to have one of these books, or two?" Another of Zawahiri's colleagues from the underground days in Cairo arrived, a physician named Sayyid Imam, whose jihadi moniker was Dr. Fadl. They worked in the same hospital in Peshawar. Like Zawahiri, Dr. Fadl was a writer and theoretician. Because he was older and had been the emir of al-Jihad during Zawahiri's imprisonment, he took over the organization once again. Zawahiri also adopted a nom de guerre: Dr. Abdul Mu'iz (in Arabic, aba means "slave," and mu'iz means "the bestower of honor," one of the ninety-nine names of God). He and Dr. Fadl immediately set about reestablishing al-Jihad by recruiting new members from the young Egyptians among the mujahideen. 1 2 2 The Base At first they called themselves the Jihad Organization, then they changed the name again, to Islamic Jihad. But it was still the same al-Jihad. The Kuwaiti-backed Red Crescent hospital became the center of a divisive movement within the Arab Afghan community. Under the influence of an Algerian, Dr. Ahmed el-Wed, known for his bloodyminded intellect, the hospital turned into an incubator for a murderous new idea, one that would split the mujahideen and justify the fratricidal carnage that would spread through the Muslim Arab countries immediately after the Afghan war. The heresy of takfir, or excommunication, has been a problem in Islam since its early days. In the mid seventh century, a group known as the Kharijites revolted against the rule of Ali, the fourth caliph. The particular issue that triggered their rebellion was Ali's decision to compromise with a political opponent rather than to wage a fratricidal war. The Kharijites decreed that they were the only ones who followed the true tenets of the faith, and that anyone who did not agree with them was an apostate, and that included even Ali, the Prophet's beloved son-in-law, whom they eventually assassinated. In the early 1970s a group surfaced in Egypt called Takfir wa Hijira (Excommunication and Withdrawal), a forerunner of al-Qaeda. Their leader, Shukri Mustafa, a graduate of the Egyptian concentration camps, attracted a couple of thousand followers. They read Qutb and plotted the day when they would gain sufficient strength in exile to return to annihilate the unbelievers and bring on the final days. Meanwhile, they wandered in Egypt's Western Desert, sleeping in mountain grottoes. The Cairo press called Mustafa's followers ahl al-kahf, "people of the cave," a reference to the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. This Christian folktale recounts the story of seven shepherds who refused to renounce their faith. In punishment, the Roman emperor Decius had them walled up inside a cave in present-day Turkey. Three centuries later, according to the legend, the cave was discovered and the sleepers awakened, thinking they had slept only one night. There is an entire sura, or chapter, in the Quran, "The Cave," that refers to this story. Like Shukri Mustafa, bin Laden would fasten onto the imagery that the cave evokes for Muslims. Moreover, the modus operandi of withdrawal, preparation, and dissimulation that would frame the culture of al-Qaeda's sleeper cells was established by Takfir wa Hijira as early as 1975. 123 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER Two years later, members of the group kidnapped a former minister of religious endowments in Cairo, Sheikh Mohammed al-Dhahabi, a humble and distinguished scholar who often spoke at the Masjid al- Nur, a mosque Zawahiri had frequented in his youth. When the Egyptian government spurned Shukri Mastafa's demands for money and publicity, Mustafa murdered the old sheikh. His body was found on a Cairo street, hands bound behind him, part of his beard torn away. The Egyptian police quickly rounded up most of the members of Takfir wa Hijira and brought dozens of them to a hasty trial. Shukri Mustafa and five others were executed. With that, the revolutionary concept of expelling Muslims from the faith—and thereby justifying their killing—seemed to have been stamped out. But in the subterranean discourse of jihad, a mutated form of takfir had taken hold. It still smoldered in Upper Egypt, where Shukri Mustafa had proselytized in his early years (and where Dr. Fadl was reared). Remnants of the group supplied Zawahiri's comrades in al-Jihad with the grenades and ammunition used to assassinate Anwar Sadat. Some adherents carried the heresy into North African countries, including Algeria, where Dr. Ahmed learned of it. Takfir is the mirror image of Islam, reversing its fundamental principles but maintaining the semblance of orthodoxy. The Quran explicitly states that Muslims shall not kill anyone, except as punishment for murder. The murderer of one innocent, the Quran warns, is judged "as if he had murdered all of mankind/' The killing of Muslims is an even greater offense. He who commits such an act, says the Quran, will find that "his repayment is Hell, remaining in it timelessly, forever." How, then, could groups such as al-Jihad and the Islamic Group justify using violence against fellow Muslims in order to come to power? Sayyid Qutb had pointed the way by declaring that a leader who does not impose Sharia on the country must be an apostate. There is a wellknown saying of the Prophet that the blood of Muslims cannot be shed except in three instances: as punishment for murder, or for marital infidelity, or for turning away from Islam. The pious Anwar Sadat was the first modern victim of the reverse logic of takfir. The new takhris, such as Dr. Fadl and Dr. Ahmed, extended the death warrant to encompass, for instance, anyone who registered to vote. Democracy, in their view, was against Islam because it placed in the hands of people authority that properly belonged to God. Therefore, anyone who voted was an apostate, and his life was forfeit. So 1 2 4 The Base was anyone who disagreed with their joyless understanding of Islam—including the mujahideen leaders they had ostensibly come to help, and even the entire population of Afghanistan, whom they regarded as infidels because they were not Salafists. The new takfiris believed that they were entitled to kill practically anyone and everyone who stood in their way; indeed, they saw it as a divine duty. Until he arrived in Peshawar, Zawahiri had never endorsed wholesale murder. He had always approached political change like a surgeon: A speedy and precise coup d'état was his lifelong ideal. But while he was working in the Red Crescent hospital with Dr. Fadl and Dr. Ahmed, the moral bonds that separated political resistance from terrorism became more elastic. His friends and former prison mates noticed a change in his personality. The modest, well-mannered doctor who had always been so exacting in his arguments was now strident, antagonistic, and strangely illogical. He would seize on innocent comments and interpret them in a weird and malicious manner. Perhaps for the first time in his adulthood, he faced a crisis of identity. In a life as directed and purposeful as Zawahiri's, there are few moments that can be said to be turning points. One was the execution of Sayyid Qutb when Zawahiri was fifteen; indeed, that was the point of origin for all that followed. Torture did not so much change Zawahiri as purify his resolve. Each step of his life was in the service of fulfilling his goal of installing an Islamic government in Egypt as bloodlessly as possible. But the takfiri doctrine had shaken him. The takfiris convinced themselves that salvation for all of humanity lay on the other side of moral territory that had always been the certain province of the damned. They would shoulder the risks to their eternal souls by assuming the divine authority of deciding who was a real Muslim and who was not, who should live and who should die. Zawahiri stood at this great divide. On one side, there lay before him the incremental process of rebuilding his movement in exile, waiting for the opportunity, if it ever came, of returning to Egypt and taking control. This was his life's goal. But it was only a small step toward the apocalypse, which seemed so much closer at hand when he viewed the other side of the divide. There, across what he must have known was an ocean of blood, was the promise of the universal restoration of true Islam. For the next ten years, Zawahiri would be pulled in both directions. 125 T H E L O O M I N G T O W ER The Egyptian option was al-Jihad, which he had created and defined. The universal option had not yet been named, but it was already taking shape. It would be called al-Qaeda. ZAWAHIRI'S WIFE, Azza, set up housekeeping in Hayatabad, Pakistan, where many of the other Arabs were living. The wives of al-Jihad kept themselves apart, wearing black abayas and covering their faces in public. The Zawahiris rented a four-bedroom villa and kept one room always available for the many visitors who passed through. "If they had money left over, they gave it to the needy," Azza's brother Essam said. "They were happy with very little." Azza's mother, Nabila Galal, visited Azza and Ayman in Pakistan on three occasions. She brought boxes of Fisher-Price toys to her grandchildren. She thought they were "an unusually close family, and always moved together as one unit." But the man her pious daughter had chosen still confounded her. He seemed always to be drawing his wife and children deeper into danger. Nabila was helpless to stop this fatal drift, which had begun in 1981 when Zawahiri went to prison just as his first child, Fatima, was born. Nabila had taken care of his wife and child until he got out three years later. After Zawahiri escaped from Egypt and relocated to Jeddah, Nabila dutifully came to attend the birth of Umayma, who was named after Zawahiri's mother. During those visits, Azza privately confessed to her mother how much she missed Egypt and her family. Again and again, Nabila fretted over the direction that Azza's life was taking. "One day, I got a letter from Azza, and I felt intense pain as I read the words," Nabila said. "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." In Peshawar, Azza gave birth to Nabila, her mother's namesake, in 1986, and to a fourth daughter, Khadija, the following year. In 1988 the Zawahiris' only son, Mohammed, was born, so Ayman was at last accorded the honor of being called Abu Mohammed. Nabila came for her final visit soon after that. She would never forget the sight of Azza and her daughters waiting for her at the airport, all wearing hijabs and smiling at her. That was the last time she would ever see them. 1 2 6 The Base BIN LADEN SOMETIMES CAME to lecture at the hospital where Zawahiri worked. Although the two men had different goals at the time, they had in common much that drew them together. They were both very modern men, members of the educated and technological class, despite their fundamentalist religious views. From a young age, bin Laden had managed large teams of workers on sophisticated construction projects, and he was at ease in the world of high finance. Zawahiri, seven years older, was a surgeon, immersed in contemporary science and medical technology. They were both from families that were well known throughout the Arab world. They were quietspoken, devout, and politically stifled by the regimes in their own countries. Each man filled a need in the other. Zawahiri wanted money and contacts, which bin Laden had in abundance. Bin Laden, an idealist given to causes, sought direction; Zawahiri, a seasoned propagandist, supplied it. They were not friends but allies. Each believed he could use the other, and each was pulled in a direction he never intended to go. The Egyptian had little interest in Afghanistan except as a staging area for the revolution in his own country. He planned to use the Afghan jihad as an opportunity to rebuild his shattered organization. In bin Laden, he found a wealthy, charismatic, and pliable sponsor. The young Saudi was a devout Salafist but not much of a political thinker. Until he met Zawahiri, he had never voiced opposition to his own government or other repressive Arab regimes. His main interest was in expelling the infidel invader from a Muslim land, but he also nursed an ill-formed longing to punish America and the West for what he believed were crimes against Islam. The dynamic of the two men's relationship made Zawahiri and bin Laden into people they would never have been individually; moreover, the organization they would create, al-Qaeda, would be a vector of these two forces, one Egyptian and one Saudi. Each would have to compromise in order to accommodate the goals of the other; as a result, al-Qaeda would take a unique path, that of global jihad. During one of his lectures at the hospital, bin Laden spoke about the need to boycott American products as a way of supporting the Palestinian cause. Zawahiri warned him that by attacking America he was steering into dangerous water. "As of now, you should change the 127 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER way in which you are guarded/' Zawahiri said. "You should alter your entire security system because your head is now wanted by the Americans and the Jews, not only by the communists and the Russians, because you are hitting the snake on its head." To back up his proposal, Zawahiri offered a highly disciplined cadre of mujahideen. They were different from the teenagers and drifters who made up so much of the Arab Afghan community. Zawahiri's recruits were doctors, engineers, and soldiers. They were used to working in secret. Many of them had been through prison and had already paid a hideous price for their beliefs. They would become the leaders of al-Qaeda. IT WAS SNOWING IN FEBRUARY 1988 when an Egyptian filmmaker, Essam Deraz, and his hurriedly assembled crew arrived at the Lion's Den. Mujahideen wearing bandoliers and carrying Kalashnikovs guarded the entrance to the main cave, under an overhanging cliff. The sight of the video cameras alarmed them. Deraz explained that he had permission from bin Laden to visit the Lion's Den and him the Arabs, but he and his crew were forced to wait outside for an hour in the bitter cold. Finally a guard said that Deraz could enter, but his team would have to stay outside. Deraz indignantly refused. "Either we all come in or we all stay out," he said. In a few minutes, Zawahiri appeared, identifying himself as Dr. Abdul Mu'iz. He apologized for the ungracious welcome and invited the men inside for tea and bread. That night Deraz slept on the floor of the cave, next to Zawahiri, who was there to oversee the building of a hospital in one of the tunnels. The Egyptians maintained their own camp within the Lion's Den complex. Bin Laden had put them on his payroll, giving each man 4,500 Saudi riyals (about $1,200) per month, to support their families. Among the Egyptians was Amin Ali al-Rashidi, who had taken the jihadi name of Abu Ubaydah al-Banshiri. Abu Ubaydah was a former police officer whose brother had participated in the Sadat assassination. Zawahiri had introduced him to bin Laden, who found him so irreplaceable that he made him the military leader of the Arabs. Abu Ubaydah had already earned a reputation for bravery on the battlefield, fighting first under Sayyaf 's banner and then bin Laden's. He was credited with the Arabs' mythic victory over the Soviets several 1 2 8 The Base months before. He seemed to Deraz as shy as a child. Second in command under Abu Ubaydah was another former police officer, Mohammed Atef, who was called Abu Hafs. He had dark skin and shining green eyes. A moody hothead named Mohammed Ibrahim Makkawi had recently arrived expecting to be awarded the military command of the Arab Afghans because of his experience as a colonel in the Egyptian Army's Special Forces. A small, dark man, Makkawi kept his cleanshaven military look despite the fundamentalist beards all around him. "The other Arabs hated him because he acted like an officer," said Deraz. He struck some of the Islamists as being dangerously unbalanced. Before he left Cairo in 1987, Makkawi deliberated whether he should go to the United States and join the American army or to Afghanistan and wage jihad. At the same time, he told an Egyptian lawmaker about a scheme to crash an airliner into the Egyptian parliament. Makkawi may be the same man who took the nom de guerre Saif al-Adl. Only their common determination to overthrow the Egyptian government kept Makkawi and Zawahiri together. Deraz became bin Laden's first biographer. He soon came to notice how the Egyptians formed a barrier around the curiously passive Saudi, who rarely ventured an opinion of his own, preferring to solicit the views of others in his company This humility, this apparent artlessness, on bin Laden's part elicited a protective response from many, including Deraz. He claims he sought to counter the influence of his countrymen, but whenever he tried to speak confidentially to bin Laden, the Egyptians would surround the Saudi and drag him into another room. They all had designs on him. Deraz thought bin Laden had the potential to be "another Eisenhower" by turning his wartime legend into a peaceful political life. But that wasn't Zawahiri's plan. IN MAY 1988 the Soviets began a staged withdrawal from Afghanistan, signaling the end of the war. Slowly, Peshawar shrank back into its shabby former self, and the Afghan mujahideen leaders started stockpiling weapons, preparing to confront their inevitable new enemies—each other. Bin Laden and his Egyptian handlers were also surveying the future. Zawahiri and Dr. Fadl constantly fed him position papers outlining the "Islamic" perspective, which reflected their takfiri tenden- 129 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER cies. One of bin Laden's close friends paid a call on him in Peshawar during this period and was told that bin Laden was unavailable because "Dr. Ayman was giving him a class in how to become the leader in an international organization." As he groomed bin Laden for the role that he envisioned for him, Zawahiri sought to undermine Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, the single great competitor for bin Laden's attention. "I don't know what some people are doing here in Peshawar," Azzam complained to his son-inlaw Abdullah Anas. "They are talking against the mujahideen. They have only one point, to createfitna"—discord—"between me and these volunteers." He singled out Zawahiri as one of the troublemakers. Azzam recognized that the real danger was takfir. The heresy that had infected the Arab Afghan community was spreading and threatened to fatally corrupt the spiritual purity of jihad. The struggle was against nonbelievers, Azzam believed, not within the community of faith, however fractured it might be. He issued a fatwa opposing the training of terrorists with money raised for the Afghan resistance, and he preached that the intentional killing of civilians, especially women and children, was against Islam. And yet Azzam himself was in favor of forming a "pioneering vanguard" along the lines called for by Sayyid Qutb. "This vanguard constitutes the solid base"—qaeda—"for the hoped-for society," Azzam wrote in April 1988. Upon this base the ideal Islamic society would be built. Afghanistan was just the beginning, Azzam believed. "We shall continue the jihad no matter how long the way, until the last breath and the last beat of the pulse—or until we see the Islamic state established." The property he surveyed for the future of jihad included the southern Soviet republics, Bosnia, the Philippines, Kashmir, central Asia, Somalia, Eritrea, and Spain—the entire span of the once-great Islamic empire. First, however, was Palestine. Azzam helped create Hamas, the Palestinian resistance group, which he saw as the natural extension of the jihad in Afghanistan. Based on the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas was meant to provide an Islamic counterweight to Yasser Arafat's secular Palestine Liberation Organization. Azzam sought to train brigades of Hamas fighters in Afghanistan, who would then return to carry on the battle against Israel. Azzam's plans for Palestine, however, ran counter to Zawahiri's intention of stirring revolution within Islamic countries, especially in Egypt. Azzam fiercely opposed a war of Muslim against Muslim. As 1 3 0 The Base the war against the Soviets wound down, this dispute over the future of jihad was defined by these two strong-willed men. The prize they fought over was a rich and impressionable young Saudi who had his own dreams. WHAT DID BIN LADEN WANT? He did not share either Zawahiri's or Azzam's priorities. The tragedy of Palestine was a constant theme in his speeches, yet he was reluctant to participate in the intifada against Israel. Like Azzam, bin Laden hated Yasser Arafat because he was a secularist. Nor did he relish the prospect of war against Arab governments. At the time, he envisioned moving the struggle to Kashmir, the Philippines, and particularly the Central Asian republics where he could continue the jihad against the Soviet Union. Notably, the United States was not yet on anyone's list. The vanguard he would create was primarily to fight against communism. One fateful day in Peshawar, August 11, 1988, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam called a meeting to discuss the future of jihad. Bin Laden, Abu Hafs, Abu Ubaydah, Abu Hajer, Dr. Fadl, and Wa'el Julaidan were present. These men were bound by uncommon experiences but profoundly divided by their goals and philosophies. One of Azzam's objectives was to make sure that, in the event of an Afghan civil war, the Arabs were not involved. His former stance of scattering the Arabs among the various commanders could prove disastrous if the Afghans began fighting each other. He had come to agree with bin Laden about the need to establish a separate Arab group, although they differed on the direction it should take. The takfiris—Hafs, Ubaydah, and Fadl— were mainly interested in taking over Egypt, but they wanted to have a say in the latest venture. Abu Hajer, the Iraqi Kurd, was always suspicious of the Egyptians and inclined to oppose them on principle, but he was also the most militant among them, and it was difficult to know which side he would support. Although Azzam chaired the meeting, the comments were directed at bin Laden, because everyone understood that the fate of jihad was in his hands, not theirs. According to Abu Rida's sketchy handwritten notes of the meeting, the men began with three general talking points: a. Did you take the opinion of Sheikh Abdullah —> knowing that the Sheikh's military gang has ended. b. This future project is in the interest of the Egyptian brothers. 131 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER c. The next stage is our foreign work —» disagreement is present —> weapons are plenty. The men observed that it had been more than a year since the construction of the Lion's Den, but it was little more than a training camp. Arabs were still excluded from the real fighting. Educating the youth is important, the men admitted, but it was time to take the next step. "We should focus on the original idea we came here for," Abu Rida noted in his pinched handwriting. "All this is to start a new project from scratch." In response, bin Laden, who was now being called the Sheikh in deference to his increased stature among the Arabs, reflected on his experience in Afghanistan so far: "I am only one person. We have started neither an organization nor an Islamic group. It was a space of a year and a half—a period of education, of building trust, of testing the brothers who came, and a period of proving ourselves to the Islamic world. Although I began all these matters in the darkest of circumstances and in such a brief time, we still made huge gains." He gave no credit to Azzam, the real progenitor of the Arab Afghans; it was bin Laden's saga now. One can hear for the first time the epic tone that began to characterize his speech—the sound of a man in the grasp of destiny. "As for our Egyptian brothers," bin Laden continued, mentioning what was obviously a contentious subject with many of his followers, "their standing with us in the worst of times cannot be ignored." One of the men then said that although the main goals of the Arabs had not yet been achieved, "we worked with what we had," but "we lost a lot of time." "We have progressed well," bin Laden responded, perhaps defensively. He pointed to the "trained, obedient and faithful youth" who could readily be put to use. Although the notes don't reflect it, a vote was taken to form a new organization aimed at keeping jihad alive after the Soviets were gone. It is difficult to imagine these men agreeing on anything, but only Abu Hajer voted against the new group. Abu Rida summarized the meeting by saying that a plan must be established within a suitable time frame and qualified people must be found to put the plan into effect. "Initial estimate, within 6 months of al-Qaeda, 314 brothers will be 1 3 2 The Base trained and ready/' For most of the men in the meeting, this was the first time that the name al-Qaeda had arisen. The members of the new group would be drawn from the most promising recruits among the Arab Afghans, but it was still unclear what the organization would do or where it would go after the jihad. Perhaps bin Laden himself didn't know. Few people in the room realized that al-Qaeda had already been secretly created some months before by a small group of bin Laden insiders. Bin Laden's friend from Jeddah, Medani al-Tayeb, who had married his niece, had joined the group on May 17, the day after Ramadan, so the organizational meeting on August 11 only brought to the surface what was already covertly under way. On Saturday morning, August 20, the same men met again to establish what they called al-Qaeda al-Askariya (the military base). "The mentioned al-Qaeda is basically an organized Islamic faction, its goal is to lift the word of God, to make His religion victorious," the secretary recorded in his minutes of the meeting. The founders divided the military work, as they termed it, into two parts: "limited duration," in which the Arabs would be trained and placed with Afghan mujahideen for the remainder of the war; and "open duration," in which "they enter a testing camp and the best brothers of them are chosen." The graduates of this second camp would become members of the new entity, al-Qaeda. The secretary listed the requirements of those who sought to join this new organization: • Members of the open duration. • Listening and obedient. • Good manners. • Referred from a trusted source. • Obeying statutes and instructions of al-Qaeda. In addition, the founders wrote an oath that the new members would recite upon joining al-Qaeda: "The pledge of God and his covenant is upon me, to energetically listen and obey the superiors who are doing this work, rising early in times of difficulty and ease." "The meeting ended on the evening of Saturday, 8/20/1988," the secretary noted. "Work of al-Qaeda commenced on 9/10/1988, with a group of fifteen brothers." At the bottom of the page, the secretary 133 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER added, "Until the date 9/20, Commandant Abu Ubaydah arrived to inform me of the existence of thirty brothers in al-Qaeda, meeting the requirements, and thank God." Bin Laden attached no special meaning to the name of the new group. "Brother Abu-Ubaydah al-Banshiri—God rest his soul— formed a camp to train youth to fight against the oppressive, atheist, and truly terrorist Soviet Union," he later stated. "We called that place al-Qaeda—in the sense that it was a training base—and that is where the name came from." Bin Laden's associates had mixed reactions to the formation of al- Qaeda. Abu Rida al-Suri, the mujahid from Kansas City, claims that when he first heard about the international Arab legion that bin Laden was creating, he asked doubtfully how many had joined. "Sixty," bin Laden lied. "How are you going to transport them?" Abu Rida asked. "Air France?" The formation of al-Qaeda gave the Arab Afghans something else to fight over. Every enterprise that arose in the sparsely populated cultural landscape was contested, and any head that rose above the crowd was a target. The ongoing jihad in Afghanistan became an afterthought in the war of words and ideas that was being fought in the mosques. Even the venerable Services Bureau, which bin Laden and Azzam had established to assist the Arabs in their desire to join the jihad, was slandered as a CIA front and Azzam as an American stooge. At the root of these quarrels was the usual culprit—money Peshawar was the funnel through which cash poured into the jihad and the vast relief effort to help the refugees. The main pool of funds— the hundreds of millions of dollars from the United States and Saudi Arabia doled out by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) each year to the Afghan warlords—was drying up as the Soviets prepared to leave. Scarcity only fed the frenzy over what remained: the international aid agencies, private charities, and bin Laden's pockets. From the beginning, the Egyptians who were sponsoring bin Laden saw Azzam as a formidable obstacle. No one among the Arabs enjoyed equal prestige. Most of the young men who had gravitated to jihad were responding to his fatwa, and they regarded Azzam with awe. "He was an angel, worshipping all night, crying and fasting," recalled his former assistant, Abdullah Anas, who married Azzam's daughter 134 The Base just to be close to his mentor. For most of the Arabs who passed through Peshawar, Azzam was the most famous man they had ever met. Many of them—including bin Laden—had spent their first nights in Peshawar sleeping on his floor. They spoke movingly of his wisdom, generosity, and courage. He had come to personify the noble spirit of the Arab Afghans, and his shadow reached around the world. Destroying such a celebrated icon would be a treacherous task. The Egyptians were not the only ones interested in bringing down Azzam. The Saudis worried that the charismatic leader would convert their young jihadis to the Muslim Brothers. They wanted an "independent body"—one that was run by a Saudi—that could be entrusted to manage the affairs of the mujahideen while keeping the Kingdom's interests in mind. Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were seen as a proper Salafist alternative managed by a loyal son of the Saudi regime. Abdullah Anas, the greatest exemplar of the Arab Afghan warriors, had just returned to Peshawar after fighting beside Ahmed Shah Massoud in northern Afghanistan. He was astounded to learn that there was to be a meeting among the Arab leaders to replace his fatherin- law, Abdullah Azzam. When Anas talked to him about it, Azzam assured him that the election was strictly cosmetic. "The Saudi authorities are not pleased that I am leading the Arabs in Afghanistan," Azzam explained. "All the money that comes for orphans and widows and schools comes from Saudi Arabia. They are unhappy to see the young Saudis being organized under my leadership. They fear they will become a part of the Muslim Brotherhood." The Saudis wanted one of their own in charge. With Osama bin Laden as the new emir, Azzam continued, the Saudis would feel safe. "They will relax, because when they feel Osama is out of control, they can stop him. But I am a Palestinian. They have no way of stopping me." It was even more difficult for Azzam to persuade his old friend Sheikh Tameem to support this proposal. Although Azzam had told him the election was only a charade to gain Saudi approval, it was clear that others in the meeting had a different agenda. They heatedly used the occasion to slander Azzam's reputation with charges of theft and corruption and mismanagement of the Services Bureau. Sheikh Tameem was outraged and turned to bin Laden. "Say something," he demanded. "I'm the emir of this meeting," bin Laden responded. "Wait for your round." 135 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER "Who told you that you are my emir?" Tameem began weeping. "Sheikh Abdullah persuaded me to support you, but how do you let these people say these things?" Tameem refused to endorse the vote, which overwhelmingly selected bin Laden as the Arabs' new leader. Azzam was philosophical and apparently unconcerned. "Osama is limited," he reassured his supporters. "What can Osama do to organize people? Nobody knows him! Don't worry." Azzam was more weakened than he realized. One of Zawahiri's men, Abu Abdul Rahman, a Canadian citizen of Egyptian origin, lodged a complaint against Azzam. Abu Abdul Rahman headed a medical and educational project in Afghanistan. He alleged that Azzam's men had snatched the project out of his hands by confiscating the funds that were earmarked for it. He further accused Azzam of spreading rumors that he was trying to sell the humanitarian project to the American embassy or a Christian organization. The charges created a sensation in Peshawar. Placards were handed out and posters pasted on the walls demanding that Azzam be brought to trial. Fights broke out in the mosques among the different camps of supporters. Behind the charges being thrown at Azzam were the takfiri doctors at the Kuwaiti Red Crescent hospital—Zawahiri and his colleagues. They had already managed to expel him from the leadership of the hospital's mosque, and now they were gleefully predicting his downfall. "Soon we will see the hand of Abdullah Azzam cut off in Peshawar," Dr. Ahmed el-Wed, the Algerian, exclaimed in a meeting. They formed a court to hear the charges, with Dr. Fadl acting as the prosecutor and the judge. This takfiri court had sat before to consider another mujahid whom they judged guilty of being an apostate. His body was found, chopped to pieces, inside a burlap bag on a street in Peshawar. On the second day of the trial, after midnight, bin Laden rushed out to fetch his closest Saudi friend, Wa'el Julaidan, who was in bed with chills and a high fever, suffering from malaria. Bin Laden insisted that Julaidan come at once. "We cannot trust the Egyptians," he declared. "I swear by God those people, if they have the chance to make a resolution against Dr. Abdullah Azzam, they will kill him." Julaidan followed bin Laden back to the meeting, which lasted another couple of hours. The judges found against Azzam and ordered the charity returned to Abu Abdul Rahman's control, but thanks to bin Laden's i 3 6 The Base intervention, they spared Azzam the disgrace of public mutilation. From the perspective of Azzam's enemies, however, it was an inconclusive verdict, since it allowed Azzam to remain as a figurehead, and they were determined to finish him off. GENERAL BORIS V. GROMOV, the commander of Soviet forces in Afghanistan, walked across the Friendship Bridge into Uzbekistan on February 15, 1989. "There is not a single Soviet soldier or officer left behind me," the general remarked. "Our nine-year stay ends with this." The Soviets had lost fifteen thousand lives and suffered more than thirty thousand casualties. Between a million and two million Afghans perished, perhaps 90 percent of them civilians. Villages were razed, crops and livestock destroyed, the landscape studded with mines. A third of the population sheltered in refugee camps in Pakistan or Iran. The Afghan communist government remained in Kabul, however, and the jihad entered a confusing new period. The end of the occupation coincided with a sudden and surprising influx of Arab mujahideen, including hundreds of Saudis who were eager to chase the retreating Soviet bear. According to Pakistan government statistics, more than six thousand Arabs came to take part in the jihad from 1987 to 1993, twice the number who came for the war against the Soviet occupation. These young men were different from the small cadre of believers who had been lured to Afghanistan by Abdullah Azzam. They were "men with large amounts of money and boiling emotions," an al-Qaeda diarist noted. Pampered kids from the Persian Gulf came on excursions, staying in air-conditioned cargo containers; they were supplied with RPGs and Kalashnikovs, which they could fire into the air, and then they could return home, boasting of their adventure. Many of them were newly religious high school or university students with no history and no one to vouch for them. Chaos and barbarism, which always threatened to overwhelm the movement, sharply increased as bin Laden took the helm. Bank robberies and murders became even more commonplace, justified by absurd religious claims. A group of takfiris even held up a truck from an Islamic aid agency, absolving their action by saying that the Saudis were infidels. Now that he was the emir of the Arabs, bin Laden held himself above the riotous competition for recruits among the rival Islamic groups that were elbowing each other at the airport as they hustled the 137 T H E L O O M I N G T O W ER newcomers onto their buses. The wrangling was especially nasty among the Egyptians. The two main Egyptian organizations—the Islamic Group, led by Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, and Zawahiri's al- Jihad—set up competing guesthouses, and they began publishing magazines and broadsides with little purpose other than to vilify each other. Among the accusations made by the Islamic Group against Zawahiri were that he had sold arms for gold, which he deposited in a Swiss bank account, and that he was an agent for the Americans—the universal charge of treason. In turn, Zawahiri wrote a tract attacking Sheikh Omar titled 'The Blind Leader," in which he recapitulated their prison quarrels for control of the radical Islamist movement. The unstated cause of these slanderous salvos was the question of who was going to control bin Laden, the golden Saudi goose. Bin Laden made his preference known by awarding $100,000 to al-Jihad to begin its operations. Meantime, a new battle was taking shape in Jalalabad, the strategic entry point on the Afghan side of the Khyber Pass, where all the roads and valleys and footpaths converged. The adversary was no longer the Soviet superpower. Now it was the communist Afghan government, which refused to collapse as so many had predicted. (One of the ugly ironies of the Arab Afghan crusade is that it was made up, by a large majority, of Muslims who came to fight Muslims, not Soviet invaders.) The siege of Jalalabad was supposed to close the curtain on communist rule in Afghanistan. Emboldened by the Soviet withdrawal, the mujahideen had contemptuously decided to mount a frontal assault on the Afghan position. The city, which stood behind a river and a wide corridor of Russian mines, was defended by thousands of Afghan government troops, who were demoralized by the articles in the Pakistani press of the impending mujahideen attack and the inevitable rapid victory that was supposed to follow. The initial assault came in March 1989, with five to seven thousand Afghan mujahideen charging down Highway 1. Eight different commanders led the men, not counting the Arabs, who followed bin Laden. After overrunning the airport on the outskirts of town, the mujahideen fell back against a powerful counterattack; then matters settled into an unexpected stalemate, with the various mujahideen commanders involved in the siege refusing to coordinate with one another. Bin Laden and his military staff occupied a small cave in the mountains, four kilometers above the city. He had fewer than two hundred men under his command. Once again, he was ill. 138 The Base His biographer, Essam Deraz, arrived, bringing with him a supply of vitamins and twelve boxes of Arcalion, a drug bin Laden always requested. He told Deraz that it was to help with his concentration. Arcalion is normally prescribed for a marked decrease in muscle strength or stamina, which might be caused by vitamin deficiencies or lead poisoning, among other things. Bin Laden's health, which had been so robust when he was a desert youth, had endured several blows in the harsh mountain environs. Like many of the men, he had contracted malaria; then in the severe winter of 1988-89, he nearly died of pneumonia when an intense snowfall buried him and several companions in their vehicle for a few days. The prolonged and unanticipated siege of Jalalabad taxed his weakened constitution further, and he was nagged increasingly by puzzling spells of back pain and paralyzing fatigue. Zawahiri, who had developed a reputation among the Arab fighters as being a medical genius, drove over from Peshawar two or three times a week to treat the injured. His main patient, of course, was bin Laden, who needed intravenous glucose treatments to keep from fainting. Bin Laden would lie for hours on the floor of the cave, in pain and unable to move. The diagnosis was low blood pressure, which is usually a symptom of another ailment.* Whatever bin Laden's health problems were, the friendship between him and Zawahiri would always be complicated by the fact that one placed his life in the hands of the other. Afghan bombers flew twenty sorties a day, pummeling the mujahideen infantry with cluster bombs. Bin Laden and his men were dug into a trench between two mountain positions. On one occasion, bin Laden was awaiting a glucose transfusion from Zawahiri, who set up a metal pole to hold the bottle and then inserted the IV tube into the bottle. Bin Laden rolled up his sleeve and waited for his doctor to slip the cannula into his vein. Just then, a bomber roared overhead at a low altitude, followed by explosions that shook the mountains. Smoke and
- One candidate, in bin Laden's case, is Addison's disease, a disorder of the
endocrine system marked by low blood pressure, weight loss, muscle fatigue, stomach irritability, sharp back pains, dehydration, and an abnormal craving for salt. This is purely speculation, but bin Laden manifested all of these symptoms. Although the disease can be controlled with steroids, an addisonian crisis, as bin Laden may have been experiencing, can be fatal if the patient is not treated with saline and glucose immediately. 139 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER dust blanketed the mujahideen, who crept out of the trench to see what had been hit. As it turned out, the bombs had fallen on the peak above them, but the hail of rocks had knocked over the glucose stand. Zawahiri calmly set the stand back up and untangled the IV tube. He got another sterile cannula, but once again, just as bin Laden stretched out his arm, a series of explosions pelted the men with rocks and blasted the wooden beams supporting the walls of the trench. The bombs were right on top of them. The men hugged the earth and waited until the aircraft disappeared. Then Zawahiri collected the stand and the same glucose bottle, which this time had been hurled across the trench. By now the men had become fixated on the bottle, "as if it were a living entity with a secret/' Deraz recalled. One of the men complained to Zawahiri, "Don't you see? Every time you put that bottle on the stand, we are bombed !" Zawahiri laughed and refused to switch to another glucose bottle. "It's merely a coincidence," he said. But as he prepared to insert the needle, yet another terrifying series of explosions shattered the landscape and sent the men diving to the ground, crying out and mumbling verses from the Quran. The timbers holding the roof were blown apart and the trench was opened to the sky. Then came a cry that they were being attacked with poison gas. They quickly put on their gas masks. In the midst of the smoke and fear and confusion, Zawahiri patiently reassembled the metal stand, and again he picked up the glucose container. Everyone in the trench began to shout at him, "Throw the bottle outside! Don't touch it!" Bin Laden tried to remind them that evil omens are forbidden in Islam, but as Zawahiri started to attach the IV tube, one of the Saudis stood up and wordlessly took the glucose bottle out of Zawahiri's hands and hurled it out of the trench. Everyone laughed, even bin Laden, but they were all happy to see the bottle gone. THERE WAS A YOUNG MAN fighting beside bin Laden during the siege of Jalalabad named Shafiq. Less than five feet tall, weighing perhaps ninety pounds, he was one of the few original Saudis who remained loyal despite the Egyptian entourage that encircled his leader. Jamal Khalifa, who was his teacher in Medina, remembered Shafiq as a polite, neatly groomed young man who had dropped out of 1 4 0 The Base school when he was sixteen to join the jihad. His father had soon come to Afghanistan to fetch him home. Khalifa was shocked when he saw his former student once again in Saudi Arabia. His hair was matted and hanging over his shoulders, and he wore dirty shoes and Afghan pants. The schoolboy had been completely transformed into a toughened warrior who couldn't wait to return to battle. Only a few weeks had passed before Shafiq snatched his passport from where his father had hidden it and returned to the war—a decision that had historic consequences. One day a sentry in Jalalabad noticed Afghan army helicopters bearing down on the Arab position, followed by tanks and infantry. They were being led by a traitorous mujahid who had sold them out. The sentry called to bin Laden's men to evacuate the cave where they were hunkered down, but by that time the armored units were upon them, ready to annihilate the entire outpost. Bin Laden hurried away with the rest of his soldiers except for Shafiq, who single-handedly covered their retreat with a small mortar. Without the few moments of relief that Shafiq provided, bin Laden would likely have died in Jalalabad, along with his unrealized dream. Eighty other Arabs did die there, including Shafiq, in the greatest disaster of the Arab Afghan experience. AL-QAEDA HELD its first recruitment meeting in the Farouk camp near Khost, Afghanistan, shortly after the debacle in Jalalabad. Farouk was a takfir camp, established by Zawahiri and Dr. Fadl, devoted entirely to training the elite Arab mujahideen being groomed to join bin Laden's private army. Although the Lion's Den was just across the mountain, the Farouk camp was kept isolated from the others so that the young men could be closely watched. Those chosen were young, zealous, and obedient. They were given a bonus and were told to bid farewell to their families. The majority of the leadership council set up to advise bin Laden were Egyptians, including Zawahiri, Abu Hafs, Abu Ubaydah, and Dr. Fadl. Also represented were members from Algeria, Libya, and Oman. The organization opened an office in a two-story villa in Hayatabad, the suburb of Peshawar where most of the Arabs resided. New recruits filled out forms in triplicate, signed their oath of loyalty to bin Laden, and swore themselves to secrecy. In return, single 141 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER members earned about $i,ooo a month in salary; married members received $1,500. Everyone got a round-trip ticket home each year and a month of vacation. There was a health-care plan and—for those who changed their mind—a buyout option: They received $2,400 and went on their way. From the beginning, al-Qaeda presented itself as an attractive employment opportunity for men whose education and careers had been curtailed by jihad. The leaders of al-Qaeda developed a constitution and by-laws, which described the Utopian goals of the organization in clear terms: 'To establish the truth, get rid of evil, and establish an Islamic nation/' This would be accomplished through education and military training, as well as coordinating and supporting jihad movements around the world. The group would be led by a commander who was impartial, resolute, trustworthy, patient, and just; he should have at least seven years of jihad experience and preferably a college degree. Among his duties were appointing a council of advisors to meet each month, establishing a budget, and deciding on a yearly plan of action. One can appreciate the ambition of al-Qaeda by looking at its bureaucratic structure, which included committees devoted to military affairs, politics, information, administration, security, and surveillance. The military committee had subsections dedicated to training, operations, research, and nuclear weapons. After the failure of Jalalabad, the Afghan mujahideen succumbed to a cataclysmic civil war. The strongest parties in this fratricide were Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ahmed Shah Massoud. Both were ruthless, charismatic leaders from the north, bent on establishing an Islamic government in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar, the more skilled politician, was a Pashtun, the dominant tribe in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He had the backing of the Pakistan ISI, and therefore of the United States and Saudi Arabia. Massoud, one of the most talented guerrilla leaders of the twentieth century, was Tajik, from the Persianspeaking tribe that is the second-largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. Based in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, Massoud rarely traveled to Peshawar, the hotbed of intelligence agencies and international media. Most of the Arabs sided with Hekmatyar, excepting Abdullah Anas, the son-in-law of Abdullah Azzam. Anas talked the sheikh into visiting Massoud, to see for himself what kind of man he was. The trip to visit the Lion of Panjshir required eight days of walking across four peaks in the Hindu Kush Mountains. As they hiked through the 1 4 2 The Base mountains, Azzam reflected on the Jalalabad fiasco. He worried that the Afghan jihad had been a disorganized, misguided failure. The Soviets were gone and now the Muslims were fighting each other. Massoud and a guard of a hundred men met them on the Pakistan border and led them down into the Panjshir Valley. Massoud lived in a cave with two bedrooms—'Tike a Gypsy/7 said Anas, who translated for the two men. Azzam was charmed by Massoud's modesty and admired the discipline of his troops, which stood in such contrast to the other mujahideen irregular forces. "We are your soldiers/' Azzam pledged. "We love you and we are going to help you." When he returned to Peshawar, Azzam made no secret of his revised opinion of Massoud. He even traveled to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, saying, "I have seen the true Islamic jihad. It is Massoud!" Hekmatyar was enraged by Azzam's turnaround, which could cost him the support of his Arab backers. Azzam had already accumulated many enemies with dark hearts and bloody hands. Bin Laden begged Azzam to stay away from Peshawar, which had become too dangerous for his former mentor. One Friday, Hekmatyar's men discovered and disarmed a powerful bomb in the mosque near Azzam's house. It was an anti-tank mine planted under the rostrum that Azzam stood upon when he led prayers. Had it exploded, hundreds of worshippers could have been killed. Confused and despondent because of the civil war among the mujahideen, and still suffering from the embarrassment of Jalalabad, bin Laden returned to Saudi Arabia for consultations with Saudi intelligence. He wanted to know which side to fight on. Prince Turki's chief of staff, Ahmed Badeeb, told him, "It's better to leave." Before he quit Peshawar entirely, bin Laden returned to say farewell to Azzam. Bin Laden's rise had left Azzam vulnerable, but somehow their friendship had survived. They embraced for a long time, and both men shed many tears, as if they knew that they would never see each other again. On November 24,1989, Azzam rode to the mosque with two of his sons, Ibrahim and Mohammed, who was the driver. As Mohammed was parking, a roadside bomb made from twenty kilograms of TNT exploded with such force that the car shattered. Body parts were strewn over the trees and power lines. A leg of one of his children flew through a shop window a hundred yards away. But Azzam's body, it is 143 T H E L O O M I N G TOWER said, was found peacefully resting against a wall, completely intact, not at all disfigured. Earlier that Friday, on the streets of Peshawar, Azzam's main rival, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had been spreading rumors that Azzam was working for the Americans. The next day, he was at Azzam's funeral, praising the martyred sheikh, as did his many other jubilant enemies.
6. The BaseEdit
121 treasures of the Afghan national museum: interviews with Mohammed Sarwar and Rahimullah Yusufzai. skimming off the subsidies: interview with Marc Sageman. Sageman disputes the common assertion that the commanders were enriching themselves from the heroin trade. 400 Notes Their murderous rivalries: interview with Rahimullah Yusufzai. 122 "second home": interview with Jamal Ismail. Mohammed set up al-Jihad's financial pipeline: unpublished CIA document, "Report on Mohammed al-Zawahiri" (no date, no author). Bitter Harvest: Some members of al-Jihad believed that Zawahiri had plagiarized this book, which they say was actually written by Sayyid Imam al-Sharif (also known as Dr. Fadl). "available free": interview with Kemal Helbawi. Dr. Fadl: interview with Yasser al-Sirri, also Hamdi Rizq, "Confessions of Those 'Returning from Albania' Mark the End of the Egyptian 'Jihad Organization,' " Al-Wasat, April 19,1999. Translated by FBIS. 123 Kuwaiti-backed Red Crescent hospital: interviews with Jamal Khashoggi and Osama Rushdi. Dr. Ahmed el-Wed: interviews with Kamal Helbawy and Abdullah Anas. Takfir wa Hijira: Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, 73-78. 124 mosque Zawahiri had frequented: interview with Khaled Abou El-Fadl. Remnants of the group: Heikal, Autumn of Fury, 251. blood of Muslims cannot be shed: Sahih Bukhari, vol. 9, bk. 83, no. 17. 125 entitled to kill practically anyone: interview with Usama Rushdi. 126 Fisher-Price: interview with Maha Elsamneh. "unusually close family": Chanaa Rostom, "Al-Zawahiri's Latest Victims," Akher Sa'a, December 12,2001. 127 "As of now": al-Zawahiri, "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner," part 2. 128 on his payroll: exhibit from "Tareek Osama" document presented in United States v. Enaam M. Arnaout. Abu Ubaydah: interviews with Jamal Khashoggi and Essam Deraz. Zawahiri had introduced: "Bin-Ladin Associate Interrogated," Al-Sharq al- Awsat, June 24,1999. 129 Abu Hafs: interview with Essam Deraz. Mohammed Ibrahim Makkawi: Nabil Sharaf El Din, "Details on the Man Who Carved the Story of bin Laden (Part III)," Al-Watan, September 29, 2001. Translated by FBIS. According to Abduh Zinah, "Report Profiling Five Egyptian Terrorists on US Most Wanted List," Al-Sharq al-Awsat, December 20,2001, Makkawi went to Saudi Arabia in 1998, then to Afghanistan. clean-shaven: interview with Montassir al-Zayyat, who was Makkawi's lawyer. dangerously unbalanced: interviews with Kamal Habib and Mohammed Salah. crash an airliner: interview with anonymous Cairo political figure. "I believe he is the true father of September 11," the source told me. He also described Makkawi as a "psychopath." Saif al-Adl: There is a controversy over whether the al-Qaeda figure who goes by this name is the same man as Mohammed Makkawi. He is identified this way on the U.S. indictment, but according to Ali Soufan, "We don't really know Saif al-Adl's real name, not even the Egyptian service knows who he is. But he fought against the Russians in Afghanistan." Nu'man bin Uthman, a Libyan Islamist who fought in Afghanistan and claims to know both Makkawi and Saif al-Adl, contends that they are different men. Mohammed 401 Notes el-Shafey, "Libyan Islamist bin-Uthman Discusses Identity of al-Qa'ida Operative Sayf-al-Adl/' Al-Sharq al-Azvsat, May 30, 2005. On the other hand, Jordanian author Fu'ad Husayn recently interviewed Saif al-Adl and says that he is Makkawi. Fu'ad Husayn, "Al-Zarqawi... The Second Generation of al- Qaida, Part 2," Al-Quds al-Arabi, June 16, 2005. Translated by FBIS. Jamal Ismail, who was a reporter for an Islamist paper in Peshawar during the 1980s, says that Saif al-Adl is not Makkawi but another Egyptian currently living in Iran; Makkawi, says Ismail, is a refugee in Europe. 129 position papers: interview with Jamal Khalifa. 130 "Dr. Ayman was giving him a class": interview with Mohammed Loay Baizid. "I don't know what some people": interview with Abdullah Anas. issued a fatwa: Gunaratna, Inside al-Qaeda, 22. "pioneering vanguard": Azzam, "The Solid Base." train brigades of Hamas fighters: Jamal Ismail, personal communication. 131 hated Yasser Arafat: Abdel Bari Atwan in Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know, 170. moving the struggle to Kashmir: interview with Jamal Khashoggi. Notably, Bosnia was also not on bin Laden's list of prospective targets for jihad. One fateful day: interviews with Mohammed Loay Baizid (Abu Rida al-Suri) and Wa'el Julaidan through an intermediary. Baizid claims he was out of the country at the time of the meeting, and that Abu Hajer later told him about it. The court in Chicago contends that the handwritten notes of the meeting are actually Baizid's. Wa'el Julaidan, who was present, told me through an intermediary that Abdullah Azzam was there as well. sketchy handwritten notes: exhibit from "Tareek Osama" document presented in United States v. Enaam M. Arnaout. The translation I have provided differs in several respects from what was provided to the court. 133 Medani al-Tayeb: interview with Jamal Khalifa. al-Qaeda al-Askariya: exhibit from "Tareek Osama" document presented in United States v. Enaam M. Arnaout. 134 "Brother Abu Ubaydah": Ahmad Zaydan, "The Search for al-Qa'ida," Tahta al-Mijhar [Under the Microscope], al-Jazeera, trans. FBIS, September 10, 2004. "Sixty": interview with Mohammed Loay Baizid. 135 "independent body": interview with Abdullah Anas. "The Saudi authorities": ibid. "Say something": ibid. 136 "Osama is limited": ibid. Abu Abdul Rahman: His real name is Ahmed Sayed Khadr. Interviews with Zaynab Ahmed Khadr, Maha Elsamneh, and Mohammed Loay Baizid. Details of the trial come from Wa'el Julaidan, who responded to questions through an intermediary, and "Tareek Osama" document presented in United States v. Enaam M. Arnaout. expel him from the leadership: "The Story of the Arab Afghans from the Time of Their Arrival in Afghanistan Until Their Departure with the Taliban," Part 5, Al-Sharq al-Azvsat, December 12, 2004. "Soon we will see the hand": interview with Abdullah Anas. 402 Notes "cannot trust the Egyptians": interview with Jamal Khalifa. 137 "not a single Soviet soldier": Cordovez and Harrison, Out of Afghanistan, 384. fifteen thousand lives: Borovik, The Hidden War, 12-13. Between a million: William T. Vollmann, "Letter from Afghanistan: Across the Divide," New Yorker, May 15, 2137. third of the population: interview with Prince Turki al-Faisal. six thousand Arabs: Ismail Khan, "Crackdown Against Arabs in Peshawar," Islamabad the News, April 7,1993. "men with large amounts of money": from "Chats from the Top of the World," no. 6, from the Harmony Documents. air-conditioned cargo containers: Benjamin and Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror, 101. takfiris even held up a truck: interview with Jamal Khashoggi. 138 sold arms for gold: Raphaeli, "Ayman Muhammed Rab'i al-Zawahiri." "The Blind Leader": interview with Usama Rushdi. awarding $100,000: Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Knew, 70. Jalalabad: The account that follows is based on a number of interviews, but they include some contradictory stories that are worth noting. Marc Sageman, who was a CIA case officer in Pakistan at the time, told me that the garrison of Afghan soldiers—450 men—who were guarding the airport quickly surrendered. Given the jealousy and divisiveness of the mujahideen factions, it was decided that the prisoners would be parceled out among them. The Arabs got a one-ninth share—49 men. The Arabs murdered them, cut their bodies to pieces, and packed them into crates. Then they loaded the boxes onto a supply truck, which they sent into the beleaguered city, with a sign that said, "This is what happens to apostates." At that point the war abruptly changed. The Afghan troops inside Jalalabad stopped negotiating their surrender and began fighting back. Within days, the Afghan air force drove the mujahideen away from the airport and back into the mountains. If this account is true, this was the first evidence of bin Laden's appetite for slaughter. Olivier Roy, the great French scholar and student of Afghanistan, said that he had heard essentially the same account from Afghans who were inside the garrisoned city. Neither Sageman nor Roy was present at the battle, however. Essam Deraz, who was there, denies that such an event ever occurred, as does Ahmed Zaidan, who covered the battle as a reporter. Indiscriminate slaughter of prisoners was common on both sides in that war. Another issue about the battle of Jalalabad is whether bin Laden was injured. Michael Scheuer, who was head of the CIA's Alec Station, says that bin Laden was injured twice in the jihad against the Soviet Union: once in Jaji, a foot wound, and once in the shoulder from a piece of shrapnel. Essam Deraz, again, says that bin Laden was never injured during that war, as does Jamal Khalifa. five to seven thousand Afghan mujahideen: Yousaf and Adkin, The Bear Trap, 227-28. four kilometers above the city: interview with Essam Deraz. fewer than two hundred men: interview with Abdullah Anas. 139 malaria . . . pneumonia: interview with Jamal Khashoggi. 403 Notes 139 medical genius: interview with Essam Deraz. twenty sorties a day: Yousaf and Adkin, The Bear Trap, 230. glucose transfusion: Details of this episode come from an interview with Essam Deraz and from his account that is rendered in Azzam, The Lofty Mountain, 8off. Addison's disease: I'm grateful to Dr. Jeanne Ryan, who consulted with me on these matters and provided the diagnosis. Although the CIA, among others, has speculated that bin Laden suffers from kidney disease, he would probably have died by now without frequent dialysis, and the symptoms are not the same as the ones described here. Dr. Ryan points out that patients with kidney disease cannot tolerate extra salt. Everyone who knew bin Laden well was acquainted with his constant dipping into his salt supply. One of the key indicators of Addison's is the eventual darkening of the skin, which has become apparent in bin Laden's later video appearances. 140 Shafiq: interviews with Abdullah Anas and Jamal Khalifa. 141 Eighty other Arabs: interview with Abdullah Anas. Other accounts place the figure as high as five hundred. "The Story of the Arab Afghans from the Time of Arrival in Afghanistan Until Their Departure with the Taliban," part 6, Al- Sharq al-Awsat, December 13, 2004. Farouk was a takfir camp: interview with Abdullah Anas. Those chosen: Hasin al-Banyan, "The Oldest Arab Afghan Talks to 'Al-Sharq al-Awsat' About His Career That Finally Landed Him in Prison in Saudi Arabia," Al-Sharq al-Awsat, November 25,2001. in triplicate: Gunaratna, Inside al-Qaeda, 56. 142 $1,000 a month: interview with Jack Cloonan. round-trip ticket home: Details of the al-Qaeda employment contract can be found in the Harmony Documents, drawn from a United States Department of Defense database, www.ctc.usma.edu/aq_harmonylist.asp. constitution and by-laws: ibid. 143 "We are your soldiers": interview with Abdullah Anas. discovered and disarmed a powerful bomb: "Saudi Afghan' Talks About Involvement with al-Qa'ida, bin Ladin," Al-Sharq al-Awsat, November 25, 2001. "It's better to leave": interview with Ahmed Badeeb. They embraced for a long time: Tahta al-Mijhar [Under the Microscope], al- Jazeera, Feb. 20, 2003. twenty kilograms of TNT: Gunaratna, Inside al-Qaeda, 23. 144 spreading rumors: interview with Usama Rushdi.