Maktab al-Khidamat

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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, was founded in 1984 by Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri 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.[1]

During the Soviet-Afghanistan war, MAK played a minimal role, training a small group of 100 mujahidin for the war and disbursing approximately $1 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 and the intelligence agency of Saudi Arabia Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah funneled money to Afghan Mujaheddin. The MAK paid the airfare for new recruits to be flown into the Afghan region for training.[2] MAK was closely cooperating with Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin faction of the Peshawar Seven.

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[3] 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.[4] Bin Laden, MAK's most important fundraiser[citation needed], was strongly influenced by Zawahiri, although he remained close to Azzam.[5]

On November 24, 1989, Azzam was killed by the detonation of 3 mines, by unknown assassins. Azzam as well as his 2 sons were killed in the assassination on their way to their local mosque for evening prayers.[6] Following Azzam's death, bin Laden assumed control of MAK and the organization became absorbed into al-Qaeda.[7] Suspects include competing Afghan militia leaders, Pakistani Interservices Intelligence Agency, the CIA, and the Israeli Mossad,[8] as well as those who opposed moving the jihad to the Palestinian territories - including bin Laden,[9] Ayman al-Zawahiri[10][11][12] - and the Iranian intelligence.[13]

Connections in the United States[edit]

MAK established recruitment and fundraising offices in many Western countries, the United States being one of their main fund-raising destinations. On his fundraising tours 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."[14]

Most MAK financiers and support networks fronting as charitable NGOs were shut down and designated shortly following the September 11 attacks and the subsequent signing of the Patriot Act.

Al Kifah Refugee Center[edit]

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 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." [14]

The Al Kifah Refugee Centre in Brooklyn, established in the mid-to-late 1980’s, was originally operated by Mustafa Shalabi, a close associate of MAK’s co-founder Abdullah Azzam. Al Kifah was originally established to aid the Mujahideen cause in Afghanistan, and garner both support and funding to fight the invading Soviets. By 1988, Shalabi had set up with two chief aids inside the Al-Farooq Mosque, one of whom, Mahmud Abouhalima, would later be arrested for the first World Trade Center Bombing.

By one account approximately 200 “young Arab Immigrants” went to see Shalabi about fighting in Afghanistan. Once enlisted, the prospective jihadists would be organized into groups of three or four and instructed to “pay their own way”. However, before leaving, the recruits were given arms and combat training; one such recruit was El Sayyid A. Nosiar, who received rifle training at the High Rock shooting range in Naugatuck, Connecticut.[15]

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.

CARE International[edit]

Established in the early 1990s as the Boston branch of The Al-Kifah Refugee Center, the head of the office, Emad Muntasser changed the name to CARE International Inc. following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and dismantling of the Brooklyn office.[16]

CARE International enlisted the use of various tactics in attempts to fundraise and recruit possible fighters. These tactics included, but were not limited to, dinner speeches and events at local mosques, donation “phonathons”, open screenings of new Jihadist videos, a newsletter called “Al Hussam”, and even university visits under the guise of Muslim Student Associations.[16]

Muntasser applied as was granted a tax exemption from the IRS as a “non-political charity”, enabling the organization to receive tax-exempt donations from around the United States. CARE was able to raise almost $2 million through small donations.[16][17]

In 2005 prosecutors charged Emmad Muntasser, Samir Al-Monta, and Mohammed Mubayyid with conspiracy to defraud the United States and engaging in a scheme to conceal information from the United States.[18]

IARA and ties to Mark Siljander[edit]

The Islamic African Relief Agency (IARA) was headquartered in Khartoum, Sudan and established over 40 offices around the world, including the United States.

The United States Treasury Department designated the Islamic African Relief Agency pursuant to Executive Order 13224 on October 13, 2004 for supporting Osama Bin-Laden and MAK (and subsequently Al-Qaeda). The designation cited one instance in which members of IARA accompanied MAK leaders on a fundraising trip to Sudan in which $5 million was raised for MAK.[19]

Mark Siljander, a former Republican Congressman from west Michigan was indicted on charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice. Siljander was given $50,000 in payment by the IARA to lobby for the group’s removal from a U.S. Senate list of terrorist-linked charities in 2004; however, it is uncertain if he ever engaged in any such lobbying efforts.[20] Siljander was sentenced to one year and one day of prison after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.[21]

One day following the press release by the Department of Justice announcing Siljander’s conviction, it released a statement of clarification regarding the former congressman’s knowledge of the IARA: “It is important to note that the indictment does not charge any of the defendants with material support of terrorism, nor does it allege that they knowingly financed acts of terror. Instead, the indictment alleges that some of the defendants engaged in financial transactions that benefited property controlled by a designated terrorist, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act”.[21]

Global Relief Foundation[edit]

The Global Relief Foundation was a purported charitable, nonprofit organization that was established and headquartered in Bridgeview, Illinois in 1992. Self-claimed to be the second largest Muslim charity within the United States, the group claimed to have raised approximately $5 million a year.[22]

The Department of Treasury designated the group under E.O. 13224 stating in a press release in October 2002 that “the GRF has connections to, and has providing assistance for, Osama bin-Laden, the Al-Qaeda network, and other known terrorist groups” it went on to note that “One of the founders of GRF was previously a member of Makhtab Al-Khidamat”.[23]

Benevolence International Foundation[edit]

Originally founded in Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s as “Lajnat al-Birr al Islamiah” (LIB) by Sheik Adedl Abdul Galil Batterjee, the organization changed its name to Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) upon incorporating in Burbank Illinois, U.S.A in early 1992.[22][24][25] During the Soviet-Afghan invasion, LIB, like many similar organizations helped to fund Mujahideen fighters. However, after the war LIB, now operating as BIF, helped to establish and fund Al-Qaeda.[25]

Between 1993 and 2001 the Benevolence International Foundation is believed to have raised upwards of $17.5 million.[22]

On November 19, 2002 the US Treasury designated BIF (as well as two other entities), as financiers of terrorism, citing the close relationship between BIF’s CEO Enaam Arnaout and Osama bin-Laden.[24]

Guantanamo captives alleged to have an association with Maktab al Khidamat[edit]

name notes
Khalid Mahomoud Abdul Wahab Al Asmr
  • Faced the allegation: "The detainee worked for Maktab al Khidmat".[26]
  • Acknowledged working for Maktab al Khidmat.[26] But testified all his work was humanitarian work, and all his work was prior to 1992.[27]
  • Testified he worked under Sheikh Abdullah Azaam's wife.[26]
  • Testified that the Pakistani government shut down Maktab al Khidani in 1996.[26]
Ahmed Hassan Jamil Suleyman
Mammar Ameur
  • During his Administrative Review Board he faced the following two allegations:[30]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (2004). Monograph on Terrorist Financing - Staff Report to the Commission (PDF). p. 91. 
  2. ^ Katz, Samuel M. "Relentless Pursuit: The DSS and the manhunt for the al-Qaeda terrorists", 2002
  3. ^ Allen, Charles God's Terrorist, (2006) p.284,285
  4. ^ Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower, (2006) p.130
  5. ^ Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower, (2006) p.129,130
  6. ^ Allen, Charles God's Terrorist, (2006) p.285,286
  7. ^ Niblock, Tim, Saudi Arabia, (2006) p.148,149
  8. ^ Peter L. Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know, New York: Free Press, 2006, p.97
  9. ^ The Age of Sacred Terror, by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, Random House, c2002, p.104
  10. ^ http://www.rulit.net/books/the-black-banners-read-249656-11.html
  11. ^ http://www.rulit.net/books/the-black-banners-read-249656-135.html
  12. ^ http://www.rulit.net/books/the-black-banners-read-249656-139.html
  13. ^ The Iranian Intelligence Services and the War On Terror By Mahan Abedin
  14. ^ a b Wright, Lawrence, Looming Tower, (2006) p.179
  15. ^ By, ALISON M. "After Blast, New Interest in Holy-War Recruits in Brooklyn." New York Times (1923-Current file): 23. Apr 11 1993. ProQuest. Web. 3 June 2016.
  16. ^ a b c Berger, J. M. Boston’s Jihadist Past. Foreign Policy. N.p., 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 03 June 2016.
  17. ^ Donovan, Jim, and Carmel Martin, eds. Terrorist Financing. Sept. 2014. The United States Attorneys' Bulletin.
  18. ^ Hammel, Lee. "Feds Push Terrorist Connection." Telegram & Gazette. Jun 12 2008. ProQuest. Web. 3 June 2016.
  19. ^ United States Government. Department of the Treasury. Treasury Designates Global Network, Senior Officials of IARA for Supporting Bin Laden, Others. Investigative Project on Terrorism. N.p., 13 Oct. 2004. Web. 3 June 2016.
  20. ^ Bell, Dawson. "Ex-Lawmaker Charged with Funding Terrorism." McClatchy - Tribune Business News. Jan 17 2008. ProQuest. Web. 3 June 2016.
  21. ^ a b United States Government. Department of Justice. Islamic Charity Charged with Terrorist Financing; Former U.S. Congressman Indicted for Money Laundering. www.justice.gov. N.p., 16 Jan. 2008. Web. 6 June 2016.
  22. ^ a b c Steven, Emerson. Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US. Amherst: Prometheus, 2006. Print.
  23. ^ United States Government. Department of the Treasury. Treasury Department Statement Regarding the Designation of the Global Relief Foundation. Investigative Project on Terrorism. N.p., 18 Oct. 2008. Web. 6 June 2016.
  24. ^ a b United States Government. Department of the Treasury. Treasury Designates Benevolence International Foundation and Related Entities as Financiers of Terrorism. Investigative Project on Terrorism. N.p., 19 Nov. 2002. Web. 6 June 2016.
  25. ^ a b Treasury Department Designation of Benevolence International Foundation :: Archive Documents :: The Investigative Project on Terrorism. The Investigative Project on Terrorism. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.
  26. ^ a b c d Summarized transcripts (.pdf), from Khalid Mahomoud Abdul Wahab Al Asmr's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - pages 19-29
  27. ^ The communists were ousted in 1991.
  28. ^ Summary of Evidence memo (.pdf) prepared for Ahmed Hassan Jamil Suleyman's Combatant Status Review Tribunal - September 28, 2004 - page 189
  29. ^ a b </noinclude> Factors for and against the continued detention (.pdf) of Ahmed Hassan Jamil Suleyman Administrative Review Board - page 45
  30. ^ Summarized transcript (.pdf), from Mammar Ameur's Administrative Review Board hearing - page 228

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.