By Aboul-Enein, Youssef
Infantry , Vol. 96, No. 2
In an effort to make readers aware of street literature and Arabic books about Usama Bin Laden, Infantry Magazine is featuring a third in a series of review essays that will introduce American military readers to unique perspectives and information on Bin Laden. The AI-Qaeda leader and the movement he has created are much too important to ignore what is written about him both in Arabic print and on the internet.
This third essay will explore the work of Khalid Khaleel Asaad who in 2000 published Muqatil Min Makkah: AlQissa Al-Kamila lee Usama Bin Laden (Warrior from Mecca: The Complete Story of Usama Bin Laden). This book is a 388-page expose on the myriad of connections Bin Laden has had with Afghan Mujahideen commanders, Sudanese government officials, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and much more. The title is a misnomer, as it is not entirely a complete biography, but it does contain a better picture of Bin Laden's early involvement with the Soviet-Afghan War and less information about the battles in which he participated, like the Defense of Jaji and the Battle of Jalalabad. What it does offer is some insight into Usama Bin Laden as a planner, organizer, political operator, and perhaps one of the better discussions on his closeness to the Sudanese government.
This is the author's third book on Bin Laden, with a 1991 book on Usama Bin Laden in Saudi Arabia and a 1994 biography of Usama Bin Laden's father, Mohammed Bin Laden, both written in Arabic. There is no biography on Asaad, but he seems to be an investigative journalist and independent writer. His 2000 book, which is the subject of this review, was published by Al-Alam Hl Nahsir Publishers out of London, a place whose liberal asylum laws has made it a haven for Islamist militant rejectionists until the recent wave of attacks on the London transportation system. This review essay demonstrates that jihadist literature and biographies of major Islamist militant figures can be found not only on Arab street corners but a few blocks from a London pub as well.
Bin Laden's Gradual Involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War (1980-1985)
This particular book discusses the gradual involvement of Usama Bin Laden in the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. Bin Laden's Odyssey began 17 days after the Soviet invasion on Christmas Day 1979. This places Bin Laden's first foray seeking out what he could do for the jihad in mid-January 1980; he was 21 years old. His first actions were not in Afghanistan but in Pakistan, where he donated $3 million to Pakistani Islamist organization Jamiat-e-Islami (The Islamic Group) to be distributed to Afghan mujahideen (jihadists, but at the time, during the Cold War, American officials would have considered them freedom fighters). Between 1980 and 1983, Bin Laden made frequent trips between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, looking for ways to contribute directly to Afghan fighters. In 1983, he arrived in the Pakistan frontier town of Peshawar on the Afghan border and donated $5 million to Afghan mujahideen groups. During this period he invested another $5 million to create a pipeline for young Arabs to volunteer for the Soviet-Afghan War. The book outlines several pipelines:
( 1 ) The Bin Laden Foundation and Construction Company in Cairo, Egypt, used its experience of moving a massive amount of Egyptian laborers to work in Saudi Arabia to export Egyptian jihadists to Pakistan and then onto Afghanistan. They would arrive first in Jeddah, stay at a transit house called Bail ??-Ansar (House of Volunteers), and await further transfer to Peshawar. Bin Laden at this stage had direct control of this pipeline and not the other two.
(2) The World Muslim League at the time maintained 1,112 offices and projects worldwide. During the start of the SovietAfghan War, they began with humanitarian work, creating 15 clinics in Peshawar for Afghan refugees and facilitated in bringing 900 Arabs (300 of whom were Egyptian) into Afghanistan including Mohammed Shawky lslambooli, older brother of President Anwar Sadat's assassin Khalid lslambooli. …