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After completing his studies, Azzam moved to Jordan and joined Palestinian nationalists fighting Israel. However, he was disillusioned by the PLO, whose leaders spent their spare time gambling and drinking. He moved to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to lecture at the King Abdul-aziz University, a hotbed of radicalism where exiled members of the Muslim Brotherhood from neighbouring states regularly found refuge, and where Azzam first met bin Laden.

When Azzam left Saudi Arabia for Afghanistan in 1979, he initially moved to Islamabad University. He soon decided to dedicate himself to the jihad full time and to create a channel for Arab fighters who wanted to join him. Before the Hajj that year, he visited America to enlist new fighters and raise funds.

I interviewed Jalal Abualrub, a Palestinian who had been studying in the US in 1979 and who helped Azzam visit more than 50 US cities, spreading the word about the Afghan jihad and raising funds. Jalal explained that Azzam's subsequent trip to Mecca to have his fatwa about jihad endorsed by Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti and other Wahhabi scholars inspired him and many others to go to Afghanistan. "Having the backing of the scholars was very important," Jalal explains. "Once we had that there was nothing stopping us." The trickle of foreign fighters entering Afghanistan became a flood.

Another Azzam protégé, Abdullah Anas (who later became Azzam's son-in-law), was a young imam in Algeria when he first read about Arab volunteers going to join the Afghan struggle. "I went for pilgrimage in 1984 and bumped into Abdullah Azzam entirely by chance," he recalled over coffee in West London. "I asked him whether the jihad in Afghanistan was a duty and whether the Saudi scholars had backed it. He told me, ‘Yes', and I decided to go immediately."

Within weeks, Anas had arrived at Azzam's house in Islamabad and was introduced to a man calling himself Abu Abdullah; he was a tall, slim man with a flowing beard and pointed features. Abu Abdullah turned out to be the nom de guerre of bin Laden. Anas joined Azzam and bin Laden to create the "Services Bureau", which organised travel and accommodation for Arab fighters before sending them to join training camps in Afghanistan.

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November 5th, 2008
9:11 PM
Jihad has many dimensions and fronts, not merely those of a military, terrorist nature. There is legal jihad (lawsuits in Western courts to prevent literature being published or disseminated which is critical of Islam); political jihad (the ongoing steamrollering through the United Nations and the EU by the Organisation of Islamic Conference's attempts to silence freedom of speech by presenting criticism of Islam as 'injurious to peace' and religious intolerance in societies because it occasions hurt feelings and violent protest from 'offended' Moslems); economic jihad (Sharia-compliant financial institutions, through which Sharia as the Moslem order of life becomes more pervasive and violent jihad is financed); educational jihad (everything from restricting the teaching of Islam at universities to Moslems-only to large-scale 'donations' to universities to set up Islamic study centres); religious jihad (da'wa with its false 'inter-faith' gatherings of Moslems using taqiyya against dhimmified non-Moslems) and, of course, social jihad (with its unceasing demands for acquiescence to and accommodation with Sharia by non-Moslems). If we continue to delude ourselves with the notion that jihad is simply a tactic of violence, rather than a means of wholesale dominance and destruction of other societies, jurisprudences and civilisations, we will wake up one day and find ourselves in full dhimmitude, paying the jizya, or quite dead.

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