However, Azzam's authority over the "Afghan Arabs" was soon eroded by a large influx of Egyptian fighters. They came in the wake of the Egyptian government's repression of al-Jihad, the militant Islamist group which had assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Its leaders included al-Zawahiri. "They were harsh and relentless," Jalal recalled. "From the moment they arrived, the fanaticism in the Arab camps began to rise."
They undermined Azzam's authority by urging Arab fighters to wage jihad against their own governments in the Middle East, arguing that these governments' deviation from literalist interpretations of Sharia made them apostates. They wanted to revive a Caliphate in the Arab world which could then destroy Israel and subjugate the West. Azzam disagreed, declaring that Arab rulers, though decadent, were still legitimate. He wanted his men to focus their efforts instead on Afghanistan. According to some reports, Azzam and Osama bin Laden also quarrelled about whether or not the Arab fighters should be integrated into Afghan mujahideen units or fight separately.
A bitter feud erupted. Zawahiri, along with another founder of al-Jihad, Sayyid Imam Abdulaziz al-Sharif, who took the name Dr Fadl, accused Azzam of selling out and being a CIA stooge. They refused to acknowledge his authority and urged followers not to pray with him.
Bin Laden too was increasingly intoxicated by Zawahiri's vision of global jihad. But bin Laden also had an established relationship with Azzam which stemmed from their time in Jeddah and continued to pray with him and to acknowledge him as leader of the Arab mujahideen. This irritated Zawahiri, but the Egyptian and his followers needed the financial and logistical support of bin Laden's construction business in Saudi Arabia for their global jihad.
For a while, bin Laden tried to straddle the widening gulf between Azzam and Zawahiri by financing both of them, creating an alternative network of guesthouses called al-Masadah, the lion's den.
- Boris is Ready for his Finest Hour. Is his Party?
- Is Boris a Churchill or a Lloyd George?
- Keeping The Lights On: the Politics of Cheap Energy
- Let the Soldiers do the Fighting, says the General
- How McJihad Ensnares Young British Muslims
- Don’t let the Keynesians Wreck the Recovery
- Leviathans that lurk in London’s labyrinths
- Doctrine, dialogue and truth
- An Oasis on Oxford Street
- The Night I Witnessed Truth Defeat Falsehood
- My Memory of German History's Proudest Day
- The Rise of UKIP is Labour's Problem Too
- Memo to the PM: show Brussels who's boss
- Scrub up the Scrubs to make prison work
- Deliciously Non-U
- Put British Jihadis on Trial in British Courts
- Muslim Women Deserve Better than Sharia Law
- Wanted: New Guardians of the Democratic Process
- Anthony Blunt: Art, Espionage and Treason
- Never Take Religious Liberty for Granted