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The Maktab al-Khidamat, also Maktab Khadamāt al-Mujāhidīn al-'Arab (Arabic: مكتب الخدمات or مكتب خدمات المجاهدين العرب, MAK), also known as the Afghan Services Bureau, is reliably believed to have been founded in 1984 by Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden to raise funds and recruit foreign mujahidin for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. MAK became the forerunner to al-Qaeda and was instrumental in creating the fundraising and recruitment network that benefited al-Qaeda during the 1990s.

During the Soviet-Afghanistan war, MAK played a minimal role, training a small group of 100 mujahidin for the war and dispersing approximately $2 million in donations from Muslims sourced via a network of global offices in Arabic and Western countries, allegedly including approximately thirty in the United States. MAK maintained a close liaison with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency through which the CIA funneled money to Afghan Mujaheddin. The MAK paid the airfare for new recruits to be flown into the Afghan region for training.[1]

As the war ended, a difference in opinion emerged between Azzam and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) led by Ayman al-Zawahiri over the future direction of MAK. Azzam wanted to use the wealth it had generated, and the network it created to help install a pure Islamic government in post-war Afghanistan[2] and opposed "fitna" among Muslims, including attacks against governments of Muslim countries. Al-Zawahiri wanted to use MAK’s assets to fund a global jihad, including the overthrow of governments in Muslim countries deemed un-Islamic.[3] Al-Bin Laden, MAK's most important fundraiser, was strongly influenced by Zawahiri, although he remained close to Azzam.[4] In November 24, 1989, Azzam was killed by the detonation of 3 mines, by unknown assassins. Azzam as well as his 3 sons were killed in the assassination on their way to their local mosque for evening prayers.[5] Following Azzam's death, bin Laden assumed control of MAK and the organization became absorbed into al-Qaeda.[6] Suspects include competing Afghan militia leaders, Pakistani Interservices Intelligence Agency, the CIA, and the Israeli Mossad, [7] as well as those who opposed moving the jihad to Palestine - including bin Laden[8] - and the Iranian intelligence.[9]

MAK Connections in the United States

MAK established recruitment and fundraising offices in many Western countries, the United States being one of their main fund-raising destinations. The first offices in the United States were established within the Al Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn, and at the Islamic Center in Tucson, Arizona. On his fundraising tours Sheikh Abdullah Azzam visited the mosques of "Brooklyn, St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Diego - altogether there were 33 cities in America that opened branches of bin Laden and Azzam's organization, the Services Bureau, in order to support the jihad." [10]

The Al Kifah Centre in Brooklyn was originally operated by Mustafa Shalabi, a close associate of MAK’s co-founder Abdullah Azzam. In February 1991, Shalabi was found murdered inside his New York apartment.

It is believed{{by whom?}} that like Azzam, Shalabi had become embroiled in a power struggle with supporters of Bin Laden, namely Omar Abdel-Rahman (the Blind Sheikh) and his followers from the Al Farouq Mosque. In 1995 Abdel-Rahman was convicted for his part in a plot, known as the ‘Day of Terror Plot’, to bomb various New York City landmarks. It is also alleged that Rahman had intimate knowledge of the original World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

The subsequent investigations by the FBI into the Al-Farooq Mosque and Al Kifah Refugee Centre effectively dismantled the New York office of MAK.

Notes and References

  1. ^ Katz, Samuel M. "Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the manhunt for the al-Qaeda terrorists", 2002
  2. ^ Allen, Charles God's Terrorist, (2006) p.284,285
  3. ^ Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower, (2006) p.130
  4. ^ Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower, (2006) p.129,130
  5. ^ Allen, Charles God's Terrorist, (2006) p.285,286
  6. ^ Niblock, Tim, Saudi Arabia, (2006) p.148,149
  7. ^ Peter L. Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know, New York: Free Press, 2006, p.97
  8. ^ The Age of Sacred Terror, by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, Random House, c2002, p.104
  9. ^ The Iranian Intelligence Services and the War On Terror By Mahan Abedin
  10. ^ Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower, (2006) p.179
  • Gunaratna, Rohan. 2002. “Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror”. Scribe, Melbourne.
  • Lance, Peter. 2003. “1000 Years For Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI”. Regan Books, New York.


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