An engineer by trade, he was put in charge of recruiting members for the group by al-Zawahiri, whom he had known since 1968.
He established a turnery at his apartment in the Gamaliyya district of Cairo, where he boosted the group's revenues by manufacturing wooden gunparts. It is believed that Essam al-Qamari hid in the turnery after his 1981 defection from the Egyptian army.
When Pakistan arrested him and extradited him to Egypt, the "fears of Arab Afghan leaders skyrocketed" as it signalled the start of a "war" against the Mujahideen fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He was sentenced to three years in Tora Prison, and upon his release sought out Zawahiri again and resumed his partnership.