Understanding Terror Networks
2004 | 232 pages | Cloth $29.95
Political Science | Psychology
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Table of Contents
1. The Origins of the Jihad
2. The Evolution of the Jihad
3. The Mujahedin
4. Joining the Jihad
5. Social Networks and the Jihad
Appendix: Names of Terrorists
Glossary of Foreign-Language Terms
Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]
From Chapter 4, "Joining the Global Jihad"
Because any attempt to find a common social factor or personality predisposition for terrorism runs into the fundamental problem of specificity, profiles based on such personal characteristics as age, sex, national origin, religion, education, and socioeconomic background are of very little value in identifying true terrorists. In the case of global Salafi mujahedin, however, there is one common element that is specific to them and to no one else, and that is the fact that they have made a link to the jihad. These links are key to the dynamics of terror networks. To further our understanding of these networks, it is critical to understand how these links are formed. How does one go about joining the global Salafi jihad? To explore this question, let us examine the case histories of two terrorist cells, the plotters of the unsuccessful millennial bombing of the Los Angeles airport and the Hamburg cell responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
The U.S. Millennial Plot
Ahmed Ressam was born on May 9, 1967, at Bou Islamil, Algeria. His father Belkacem Ressam, a hero from the Algerian War of Liberation, owned a coffee shop and a six-bedroom house. He was a devout Muslim but did not demand that his family follow his practice, and his children were not religious. Ahmed, the oldest child, was a shy, skinny boy and a decent student. At sixteen, he developed a stomach ulcer and went to Paris for a lengthy course of treatment. This set him back in his studies, and he failed his final baccalaureate examinations, ending his opportunity for further studies at university. He worked at his father's coffee shop and lived a secular life. He wore designer jeans, drank wine, smoked hashish, frequented nightclubs, went out with girls, and had nothing to do with Islam. He was aloof from the nascent political storms brewing over Algeria in the late 1980s and early 1990s. On September 5, 1992, he boarded the ferry for Marseille, in search of a better life (Ressam, 2001; Bernton et al., 2002).
Lacking proper papers, Ressam drifted to Corsica, where he found work picking grapes and painting houses and got involved in the underground market in false documents. He was arrested on November 8, 1993, for an immigration violation and was released awaiting his hearing in March, 1994. Not wanting to return to Algeria, he flew to Montreal on February 20, 1994, with false documents identifying him as Tahar Medjadi. On arrival at the airport, he admitted that his documents were faked but invented a story about militant engagement and false imprisonment in Algeria and asked for political asylum. He was released on bond, given welfare benefits (for three years) and scheduled to come back for a hearing.
Alone in Montreal, Ressam drifted to places where he could meet compatriots. One of the most popular was the Assuna Annabawiyah Mosque, which attracted about 1,500 worshippers on Fridays, mostly from the expatriate Algerian community. A significant portion of this community was involved in small-scale crime, such as trafficking in false documents, credit card fraud, and petty theft. The mosque was one of the centers where people involved in these crimes met in order to fence their stolen goods. Young men congregated around the mosque and its connected bookstore, which sold Salafi books and tapes. Ressam, who still liked to dress well and go to nightclubs, befriended several of them and got involved in petty crime as well. He met Mustapha Labsi, who had come to Canada on April 30, 1994, also asking for refugee status on the basis of a made-up story. The two became best friends and accomplices in crime. They were first arrested in August 1994 when they tried to grab an elderly woman's handbag. Ressam pled guilty and was sentenced to pay a fine to a charity. He and Labsi continued their careers in crime and specialized in stealing tourists' suitcases from hotel lobbies, taking money, passports, and credit cards. Ressam was arrested four times in four years. He was convicted, fined $100 to $500, put on probation, and ordered to leave Canada. He never appeared at his deportation hearing. In October 1996, he was arrested again for pickpocketing, fined $500, and released on probation. He maintained his lifestyle of dressing well and going to nightclubs.
In early 1996, Labsi and Ressam moved into an apartment rented by Adel Boumezbeur and were joined by Said Atmani. The four were now part of a small group of thieves, organized by Mustapha Kamel, who used the proceeds to support the global jihad. Atmani, also known as Karim, was of Moroccan origin and had fought in Bosnia as part of the al-Mujahedin Brigade in Zenica, where he had met Kamel. After the brigade disbanded in compliance with the Dayton Accords, Kamel invited Atmani to come to Canada. He arrived as a stowaway on September 26, 1995, and reconnected with Kamel. He became a skilled forger and was eventually described as Kamel's right-hand man in Montreal.
When they were not robbing tourists, Ressam and his roommates spent their days idly. They played soccer, smoked cigarettes, and decried the corrupt culture of Canada and the West, especially its immoral dress, music, and godless pursuit of wealth. Their apartment on Place de la Malicorne became the central meeting place of Kamel's group. Regular visitors included Boumezbeur's brother and their childhood friends from Algeria, the Ikhlef brothers, Kamel, and Mokhtar Haouari, who bought Kamel's trinket shop and sold the stolen goods. Sometimes strangers, such as Laifa Khabou, who was connected to the French Roubaix gang and acting as a courier to transport false passports to colleagues in trouble in other countries, stayed at the apartment. Unbeknownst to the occupants, the Canadian federal authorities had placed listening devices in the apartment and were monitoring their conversations, which consisted largely of anti-Western fantasies and plots. The police referred to the group as BOG, "bunch of guys," more pathetic than dangerous—unemployed, no girlfriends, living on welfare or thievery, and crammed into an apartment reeking of cigarette smoke.
Although the authorities did not take them seriously, they would talk about Muslim affairs. The most respected members of their circle were men who had undergone military training in Afghan camps and had actually fought the jihad in Bosnia, like Kamel, Atmani, and Abderrauf Hannachi. Hannachi was a Tunisian of little education, who had also arrived in Canada in 1994. He was a regular at the Assuna Mosque, where he liked to entertain with stories and jokes. He would loudly proclaim his hatred for Western and U.S. culture. In the summer of 1997, he returned from military training in al Qaeda's Camp Khalden in Afghanistan, bragged about what he had learned and declared that he had found meaning as a "warrior." Labsi and Ressam decided to try it out for themselves and asked Hannachi to arrange for their training. Hannachi did so via Hussein (abu Zubaydah) in Pakistan.
Ressam and his friend left for Afghanistan on March 17, 1998. They stayed there for eleven months, during which they learned small caliber weapons tactics at Camp Khalden and took an advanced course in explosives at Camp Toranta. They formed a small five-member cell with Fodail, abu Ahmed, and Hakim. Atmani was to be the sixth member of the cell. Fodail was to be in charge in the field. They discussed several operations with the camp commandant, Makhlulif (abu Doha), Hussein, and abu Jaffar, his deputy for Algerian mujahedin. The plan was for them to meet in Canada and conduct operations against the United States from there. Ressam received $12,000 from abu Jaffar and returned safely to Canada via the Pacific, landing at Los Angeles International Airport on February 7, 1999. He took the opportunity to scout the airport, the objective of an attack planned to coincide with the millennium celebration. Meanwhile Atmani had been arrested in late October 1998 in Niagara Falls in possession of stolen credit cards. He was deported to Bosnia, which deported him to France, where he was facing charges connected with the the 1996 wave of bombings in France carried out by the Roubaix gang. Labsi planned to return to Montreal via Europe, but was prevented from going on to Canada at Heathrow Airport. Labsi stayed in London with Makhlulif, who had been sent to London to oversee al Qaeda's operations in the Western world. Fodail was likewise detained in Europe and unable to fly to Canada. Nor could Ressam turn to Kamel for help; Kamel had been arrested in Jordan in April 1999 and deported to France for charges in connection with Roubaix gang bombings.
The unraveling of his network did not discourage Ressam. He decided to carry out the operation on his own. People who knew him before his trip to Afghanistan noticed a change. He seemed more confident, a man willing to risk his freedom or his life for God. He elicited the help of his friends. Mourad Ikhlef, one of the regulars at the Montreal apartment, had been implicated in a 1992 bombing at Algiers airport, which killed eleven and injured more than one hundred. Ikhlef helped Ressam with the planning of the Los Angeles airport bombing. Haouari provided some money, false credit cards, and logistical support. Samir Ait Mohamed helped as well. Abdel Majid Dahoumane, a friend since his first days in Montreal, promised help in building the bomb. He asked Ressam for help in joining the jihad and getting to Afghanistan for military training. Haouari also had a childhood friend, Abdel Ghani Meskini, who wanted to join the jihad and train in Afghanistan. Meskini might help Ressam deliver the bomb, for he was already living in Brooklyn, New York. Ressam had never met Meskini but Haouari vouched for his trustworthiness, as they had grown up together. Ressam called Makhlulif, who apprised him of the others' inability to come to Canada. Ressam brought him up to date on his plan to bomb the airport and asked for two visas for Pakistan for Meskini and Dahoumane, for training at an al Qaeda base. Abu Jaffar, from Peshawar, sent the visas to London, and Labsi forwarded them to Ressam. Ressam gathered up the necessary material, and in November 1999 he and Dahoumane flew to Vancouver to rent a car and mix some of the explosives. On December 11, 1999, Meskini flew to Seattle to meet Ressam.
On December 14, 1999, Ressam put the material in a rented car and tried to cross the U.S. border at Port Angeles, Washington. An alert customs inspector, Diana Dean, noticed that he was sweating profusely and nervous and asked him to pull over. The chemicals were soon discovered and Ressam was arrested. Two days later, Canadian authorities identified Ressam, who was still resisting under interrogation. Meskini, after waiting for a few days, flew back to New York. From the phone numbers in Ressam's papers, the FBI was able to trace back the network, and eventually Meskini and Haouari were arrested in New York and Montreal, respectively. Dahoumane fled to Algeria, where he was arrested. Mourad Ikhlef was deported to Algeria.
The Hamburg Cell
Meanwhile, in Europe, a strikingly similar process of affiliation with al Qaeda was taking place, involving those who would be responsible for the 9/11 operations. The Hamburg cell emerged from a convergence of nine people in an upper-middle-class expatriate student community. The nucleus of the group formed around Mohammad Belfas, a middle-aged immigrant from Indonesia, Yemen, and Egypt, who had lived in Germany illegally for almost twenty years before being given legal status. He worked for the post office and conducted a study group at Al-Quds Mosque in Hamburg. Around 1996, three students from the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) began attending his study group. Mohamed al-Amir Awad al-Sayed Atta had come to Germany in 1992 to study architecture at TUHH. He moved into the dorm and befriended German students. After a trip back to the Middle East, which included a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1995, he began to change and probably joined Belfas's study group around that time. Mounir Motassadeq and Abdel Ghani Mzoudi, friends from Marrakech, came to Germany in 1993 and started an electrical engineering program at TUHH in 1995.
It is not clear who first connected with Belfas's study group at Al-Quds Mosque. Motassadeq at his trial claimed that Mzoudi introduced him to Atta in early 1996 because he was looking for a place to stay and Atta knew a lot of people at the mosque. A German student who shared Mzoudi's apartment in late 1995 said that Mzoudi was a lonely and private man, who did not utter any radical comment. Motassadeq moved in with them in December 1995 for a few months, and their conversation began to show adherence to radical Islam. On April 11, 1996, the two Moroccan friends witnessed Atta's will. Motassadeq moved into an apartment in the student-housing complex that spring and stayed there three years. It became the center where militant Muslim students congregated when on campus, eating meals together from the common kitchen, and discussing religion and politics in the living room. They also prayed together at Al-Quds Mosque.
They were soon joined by Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a student from Yemen, who had come to Germany under false papers, asking for political asylum. Bin al-Shibh was religious, learned in the Quran, charismatic, and charming. He became the most recognizable member of the Belfas study group at Al-Quds Mosque. He was learning German in order to later study economics and politics. The group grew with the addition of Said Bahaji, who was of German Moroccan origin and had grown up in Morocco. He had started at TUHH in 1996 and met Motassadeq, who took him to a mosque for the first time. Bahaji, who had grown up in a secular household—his father had owned a discotheque and his mother was a Prussian Protestant—quickly adopted the Salafi ideology of his friends. He publicly aired his extreme views and even started lecturing his German Christian aunt about proper conduct for women.
In 1997, the group expanded again with the addition of Ziad Amir Jarrah, who had come to Germany in April 1996 and moved to Hamburg to study aeronautical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences (UAS) in the fall of 1997. Jarrah's girlfriend later testified that he had grown homesick and began to attend conservative mosques. He met bin al-Shibh at Al-Quds Mosque in late 1997 and grew closer to the circle of friends around Belfas's study group. In late 1997, Atta quit his job and seemed to have disappeared for a few months. The authorities later suspected that he might have gone to Afghanistan for training. At the end of the year, Mzoudi dropped out of TUHH and switched to the UAS, where Jarrah was studying. In early 1998, Marwan al-Shehhi joined the group. He came from the United Arab Emirates, which paid for his studies. After a stay in Bonn, Germany, he came in early 1998 to Hamburg, where he met the group at Al-Quds Mosque. He went home for his father's funeral and returned to Hamburg, where he grew very close to Atta. The two would become almost inseparable. Bin al-Shibh moved in with Belfas. During the summer of 1998, Atta, Belfas, al-Shehhi, and bin al-Shibh all worked in a computer warehouse, packing boxes. Jarrah had an internship at the Wolfsburg Volkswagen plant, where he met Zakarya Essabar, a Moroccan student who had come to Germany the year before. Jarrah introduced him to the group and Essabar moved to Hamburg that fall to study medical technology at the UAS.
In November 1998, Atta, bin al-Shibh, and Bahaji moved into an apartment on Marienstrasse, which they named Bait al-Ansar, the House of the Supporters (of the Prophet), the same name as al Qaeda's guest house in Peshawar, Pakistan, where prospective recruits transited on their way to training camps. Bait al-Ansar became the place where the group of friends met and talked politics. However virulent and extreme its discourse, a spirit of easy brotherhood prevailed within the group. The men shared apartments, bank accounts, and cars. The group members strictly observed the tenets of their religion; they prayed five times a day, maintained strict Islamic diets, and even debated the proper length of their beards. They talked endlessly about the damage done by the Jews. For entertainment, they watched battlefield videos and sang songs about martyrdom (Laabs and McDermot, 2003). Visitors to Bait al-Ansar included Mohamed Heidar Zammar, a naturalized German, originally from Syria, who had fought in the Afghan civil war and in Bosnia. He was loud and radical about his views and did not make a secret of his past. German authorities put him under surveillance, but dropped it within a few months for lack of evidence of any criminal planning. He met the group at Al-Quds Mosque and became close to Bahaji. They were unaware that the German police had put in a microphone and monitored some of their discussions, which became increasingly virulent with focused hatred against "world Jewry" and the United States. Talk about defeating them through jihad and entry into paradise became more prominent with time.
In early 1999, Bahaji, as a German citizen, did his military service. The group seemed on a mission. Atta finished his dissertation. Jarrah married his girlfriend at Al-Quds Mosque. Al-Shehhi gained admission to TUHH. Motassadeq married a fellow student from Belorussia, who converted to Islam. Bahaji married an eighteen-year-old religious Muslim Turkish girl, who had dropped out of high school because it taught un-Islamic subjects like evolution. At Bahaji's wedding in October 1999, the group demonstrated their fervor by loudly proclaiming their devotion to God and the jihad, to the shock of Bahaji's family and relatives. When Bahaji moved out of Bait al-Ansar, Essabar and Mzoudi moved in with Atta and bin al-Shibh.
The eight friends were ready to join the jihad. Originally, they had planned to go to Chechnya to fight the Russians. Russian atrocities against Muslims in Chechnya motivated Muslim militants to join the jihad. Mohamadou Ould Slahi, the brother-in-law of a close lieutenant of Osama bin Laden and who was living in Germany, discouraged them from going to Grozny and suggested instead that they go to Afghanistan for training. In November 1999, Atta, bin al-Shibh, al-Shehhi, and Jarrah went separately in the first wave and regrouped at an al Qaeda guesthouse near Qandahar, Afghanistan. There they were selected for the 9/11 operation, which had been in the planning stages for a few years. What was missing were volunteers familiar with Western countries, able to solve complex problems and work independently. Ideally, they would have studied in a Western country, be technically skilled, and speak perfect English (Fouda and Fielding, 2003; Mascolo and Stark, 2003). The four friends from Hamburg fit the bill. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who had conceived the operation, approached them, and they enthusiastically accepted the assignment. Thet met fellow conspirators Hani Hanjour, Khalid al-Midhar, and Nawaf al-Hazmi there and planned the operation. They returned to Germany and the second wave of Mzoudi, Motassadeq, Essabar, and Bahaji went to Afghanistan in the spring of 2000. Al-Shehhi moved into Bait al-Ansar for a few months. The first-wave members applied for their U.S. visas to go to flight school. Only bin al-Shibh was frustrated in his attempts to obtain a visa to enter the United States. After the fourth refusal, Essabar tried to replace him and get a U.S. visa but was refused twice as well. Bin al-Shibh was the liaison between Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the team in the field. Atta was in charge in the field and al-Hamzi was his deputy.
With Atta, Jarrah, and al-Shehhi in the U.S. training and preparing for their operation and bin al-Shibh traveling around coordinating it with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the Saudi "muscle" group, Mzoudi, Motassadeq, Essabar, and Bahaji played supporting roles, providing their friends with money and taking care of their affairs back in Germany. On August 29, 2001, Atta called bin al-Shibh to tell him the date of the operation in code. Within days, bin al-Shibh, Essabar, and Bahaji disappeared from Hamburg. Motassadeq and Mzoudi stayed in Hamburg and were eventually arrested and tried. It is unclear how much Belfas and Zammar knew about the plot. Belfas became a German citizen in 2000 and immediately took a trip to the U.S., where he might have been casing potential targets. Zammar was probably shut out of the plans because of his big mouth. He was arrested in Morocco and disappeared. It is suspected that he is incarcerated in Syria.
A striking element in both of these accounts is the absence of both top-down recruitment and brainwashing of the plotters, concepts which have been the mainstay of conventional explanations of al Qaeda terrorism. In the millennial plot, three of the main plotters had not attended training camps in Afghanistan and were not even formally affiliated with al Qaeda. (Two were scheduled to go after the plot.) Nor were they particularly religious. Meskini drank beer, loved movies, and dated women he met in dance clubs. The Hamburg plotters were far more devout in their beliefs and practices. A theme in both accounts is the formation of a network of friendships that solidified and preceded formal induction into the terrorist organization. The size of the networks was similar, with eight members in each group: Ressam, Labsi, Atamani, Kamel, the Boumezbeur and Ikhlef brothers in Canada; Atta, bin al-Shibh, al-Shehhi, Jarrah, Motassadeq, Mzoudi, Essabar, and Bahaji in Hamburg. Some, such as the Boumezbeur and Ikhlef brothers (also Haouari and Meskini) in Canada and Mzoudi and Motassadeq in Hamburg, knew each other from the old country. They had grown up together and trusted each other. Around them were some peripheral members: Haouari and Hannachi in one case, and Belfas and Zammar in the other.
During an incubation period of almost two years, the intensity of their beliefs spiraled upward in an apparent game of oneupsmanship. This took place in what they hoped was the privacy of a refuge, but it was monitored by the police. The Canadian police label of "bunch of guys" is appropriate. Kay Nehm, the German federal prosecutor, commented, "All the members of this cell shared the same religious convictions, an Islamic lifestyle, a feeling of being out of place in unfamiliar cultural surroundings that they weren't used to. At the center of this stood a hatred of world Jewry and the United States" (Williams, 2002). Nor were the friends particularly discreet about their views. Yazir Mukla, a Moroccan student who was occasionally part of the group, testified at Motassadeq's trial that when his father came to visit him, he was so alarmed at the radical atmosphere at Al-Quds Mosque that he forbade his son to have any further contact with the group. He eventually forced his son to return to Morocco in 1999 (Notz, Steinborn, and Williamson, 2003).
This escalation of rhetorical militancy and condemnation of the West within a group of close friends was also noted in Milan, where the Italian authorities had wiretapped the apartment of al Qaeda's Varenese network and monitored their conversations for years. The Italian prosecutor Stefano Dambruoso speculated that their "chatter" about destroying the world was essential for keeping up their morale and egging each other on. "These are people with a lot of problems. Adapting to this country is devastating to them. In radical religious activity they found rules, a structure. It's not just religious, it's psychological and personal. The talk helps them stay fanaticized, to maintain their mind and never relent" (Rotella, 2002).
At some point, the friends were ready to join the global Salafi jihad. As the Canadian example demonstrates, it was not simply because of piety and devotion. Although the Montreal group was somewhat religious, it was not seriously so, like the Hamburg group. I suspect that there was a strong desire for adventure mixed with the religious and political beliefs. But more interesting is the fact that the group of friends seemed to have initiated contact with the jihad. I detected only one instance of any reluctance to join the jihad in all the accounts I read. This exception is instructive.
Abdul Basit Karim (Ramzi Yousef) tried to recruit Ishtiaque Parker, a South African student at Islamabad Islamic University. Karim's brother-in-law, a student at the same university, met Parker by chance and took an interest in his South African citizenship. Two days later, he introduced Parker to Karim, who poured on the charm and expressed an interest in marrying a South African girl in order to get a South African passport. Karim met him again two or three times and carried on innocuous conversations. In December 1994, Karim broke cover and told him about his involvement with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and several other bombings. He asked Parker to take a bag overseas for him in return for $10,000 and told him he would provide specific instructions later. Karim left for the Philippines and returned precipitously after the fire in Manila ruined his plans for the Bojinka plot. He called Parker, who by this time was terrified of Karim. They both flew to Bangkok, where Karim packed explosives in suitcases and dispatched Parker to the airport to send them as cargo with a U.S. carrier. Parker went and returned but lied that the security was too tight to carry out the plan. They both returned to Islamabad. After their return, Karim told Parker that his computer had fallen into the hands of the police in Manila and that Parker's name was in it. This terrified Parker even more. The next day Karim told Parker to take a small package to a Shiite mosque the following day. Instead, Parker telephoned the U.S. embassy and revealed what he knew. On the basis of this information, a mixed U.S.-Pakistani force arrested Karim on February 7, 1995 (Reeve, 1999).
The above account shows the danger of attempting to prematurely recruit a stranger. Karim was in many ways a loose cannon. He did well when he relied on childhood friends and kinsmen, but his luck ran out when he expanded his operations to strangers. Friends or kinsmen who know each other for a long time can vouch for their loyalty. Usually, the prospective mujahed took the initiative rather than waiting for someone to ask him to join the jihad. Instead of a top-down process of the terrorist organization trying to recruit new members, it was a bottom-up process of young people volunteering to join the organization. Many wanted to join, but didn't know how to get in touch with the jihad organization. Often it was a chance phenomenon.
Meskini's experience in the millennial plot is probably typical. After a few years of a life of petty crime, Meskini asked his childhood friend Haouari to help him join the jihad and fight with Muslim men in Chechnya or Afghanistan (Adams, 2001). Haouari introduced him to Ressam, who asked Makhlulif for a visa. Haouari vouched for his childhood friend and Ressam vouched for Haouari (Ressam, 2001: 565).
Neither of the two accounts has a "recruiter" in the traditional sense of the term. The closest are Hannachi and allegedly Zammar. In Ressam's testimony, Hannachi arranged for Labsi and Ressam to go to an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan by getting a message to Hussein (abu Zubaydah) in Peshawar. Zammar has been widely reported in the world press as the "recruiter" of the Hamburg cell, the one who facilitated their affiliation with al Qaeda. People familiar with him, however, ridicule this hypothesis because of his limited intellect and tendency to talk too much. "For people to say that Zammar recruited Atta is like saying a first grader recruited a professor" (Hendawi, 2002). The president of the Al-Muhadjerin Mosque in Hamburg described him as "a little boy who talked too much" (McDermott, 2002). Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who seems not to have taken his studies seriously and appears to have been devoted to the jihad full-time even before he went to Afghanistan with the Hamburg first wave, may have already been linked to the jihad. He was a cousin of Khalid al-Midhar's wife. But assuming that Zammar did indeed make the connection between al Qaeda and the Hamburg cell, it appears that, like Hannachi, he played a passive role, rather than that of an active recruiter. Furthermore, neither was a core member of the respective group.
Formal affiliation with the jihad also seems to have been a group phenomenon. Friends decided to join the jihad as a group rather than as isolated individuals. The founders of al Qaeda had of course met each other on the fields of Afghanistan and forged strong bonds in the fight against the Soviets. At the end of the war, they decided to create al Qaeda. This group phenomenon may be a strong factor in the formation of the global Salafi mujahedin in general. Abdul Basit Karim (Ramzi Yousef) plotted and executed many terrorist acts with his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his childhood friends Abdul Hakim Murad and Abdul Shakur. At the East African embassy bombings trial L'Houssaine Kherchtou testified that he had joined the jihad with four friends from Milan (Kherchtou, 2001: 1107). The Kelkal group consisted of friends who had grown up together and participated together in the bombings of the summer 1995. The members of the Roubaix group had met around the mosque and had gone to Bosnia as a group to fight. The members of the 2001 failed Paris embassy plot also joined as a group of friends. There are hints that the Saudi mujahedin involved in the 9/11 operations also came as groups. Although it is difficult to obtain information from Saudi Arabia, which has been closed to investigative journalists, it has been reported that four friends (Wail al-Shehri, Waleed al-Shehri, Ahmed al-Nami, and Saeed al-Ghamdi), who went on to become hijackers, met at the Seqeley Mosque in the town of Khamis Mushayt in Assir Province, and swore to commit to jihad in the spring of 2000 (Sennott, 2002b; Lamb, 2002; "The Highway of Death," 2002). They went together to al Qaeda's al-Farooq camp in Afghanistan and eventually became part of the 9/11 operation. Even the Lackawanna Six, close Yemeni American childhood friends who underwent training at an al Qaeda camp, did so as a group. The May 16, 2003, Casablanca bombings were carried out by friends who lived within two blocks of each other.
From an empirical perspective, it is difficult to make a statement about friendship bonds preceding affiliation with the global jihad. People who provide an account of how they joined a revivalist group have a tendency to privilege ideological factors as an explanation for their conversion or affiliation. They seldom mention the critical role of friendship in this process. Only prospective participant observation studies show the importance of interpersonal bonds in recruitment into cults and sects (Lofland and Stark, 1965; Stark and Bainbridge, 1980). This difficulty is compounded by the fact that the sample data is derived from court testimony or journalists' interviews, neither of which usually investigates the importance of social bonds in the subject's personal history.
My sample includes 150 subjects on whom I had some information about social bonds preexisting formal affiliation with the jihad or with people who went on to join the global jihad. Preexisting friendship bonds played an important role in the formal affiliation of 68 percent of mujahedin on whom there was adequate information. Most of them joined the jihad in small clusters of friends. Al Qaeda's founders had forged such bonds through their common fight against the Soviets. For many, like Ahmed al-Kalaylah (a.k.a. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) and Waleed Tawfiq bin Attash (a.k.a. Khallad), there was just not enough information. Two provided accounts of religious conversions without mentioning friends. Only in the case of Ahmed Omar Sheikh was there no hint of friends, family, or religious reaffiliation that might explain his joining the jihad.
Friendship is only one type of social bond that might foster affiliation to the global jihad. Kinship is another. In my sample, kinship played a role in the affiliation of 14 percent of mujahedin. Some families seemed dedicated to the jihad. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abdul Basit Karim (a.k.a. Ramzi Yousef, who is Mohammed's nephew) belonged to an extended jihad family. Ahmed Said Khadr, of the Canadian Khadr family, worked with Mohammed's brother in Peshawar in 1984, fought with Osama bin Laden at Ali Kheyl (Jaji) in 1987, and financed the Egyptian embassy bombing in Islamabad in 1995 for al-Zawahiri's EIJ. His three sons Abdallah, Abdel Rahman, and Omar were also involved in the global jihad. Ali Ghufron and three of his younger brothers (Amrozi, Ali Imron, and Ali Fauzi) were involved in the Bali nightclub bombing in October 2002, as was their next-door neighbor Mubarak. These are the green-diaper mujahedin. In the millennial plot, two sets of brothers belonged to the Montreal group of friends. The 9/11 perpetrators included two sets of brothers (al-Hamzi and al-Shehri) and three cousins (Hamza, Ahmed, and Ahmed al-Haznawi al-Ghamdi).
Kinship bonds also extend to in-laws. Yazid Sufaat became more religious through his wife's urging. He studied with senior members of the Jemaah Islamiyah, who were exiled in Malaysia, ended up joining that organization, was the host for the Kuala Lumpur al Qaeda conference leading to the USS Cole bombing and the 9/11 operations. Sufaat eventually personally participated in the Christmas Eve 2000 wave of church bombings throughout Indonesia. Spouses also played an important role in convincing Christian converts to join the jihad. Jack Thomas, an Australian, was married to an Indonesian woman from the troubled Sulawesi Province. Luis José Galan Gonzalez, a Spaniard, converted to Islam and took the name of Yusuf Galan when he married a Muslim woman. He joined the jihad as part of Yarkas's (a.k.a. abu Dahdah) logistics group in Madrid. Marriage exposes people to new kinship and friendship networks, which may inspire affiliation with the jihad. For example, el-Hage brought his wife, mother-in-law, and her new husband to Pakistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s.
In-laws also provided links for prospective mujahedin to join the jihad. Ramzi bin al-Shibh was a cousin of Khaled al-Midhar's wife. In turn, Khaled al-Midhar was the son-in-law of the Yemeni leader of al Qaeda. Marriages commonly cemented mujahedin into kinship relationships. Mujahedin and their families lived in exile because of their clandestine activities, limiting their choice of marriage partners. The most prominent of such bonds was the marriage of bin Laden's son to the daughter of abu Sittah. Marriages were also the ideal way of forging permanent alliances between mujahedin families. Many of the accounts tell of intermarriages in the Sudan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Typical was Ahmed Said Khadr's attempt to convince his eldest daughter, Zaynab, to marry a Sudanese terrorist in Peshawar in 1995 (Vincent, 2002). In Indonesia, Haris Fadillah, a Muslim militia leader, arranged the marriage of his daughter to Omar al-Faruq, an al Qaeda representative in Southeast Asia, in one day (Murphy, 2003).
Combining the friendship and kinship statistics and eliminating the overlap, about 75 percent of mujahedin had preexisting social bonds to members already involved in the global jihad or decided to join the jihad as a group with friends or relatives.
A third type of affiliation for the jihad, discipleship, is unique to the Southeast Asian cluster and accounts for about 8 percent of mujahedin who joined the jihad. The Southeast Asian cluster centers around two Islamic boarding schools founded by Abu Bakar Baasyir and Abdullah Sungkar, who later founded and led the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group. At Pondok Ngruki, in Indonesia, they taught a brand of militant Salafi Islam that made them run afoul of the Indonesian authorities. Rather than face a second term of prison, they fled to Malaysia where they founded the second school, Pesantren Luqmanul Hakiem, and continued their work. It is unclear exactly when the Jemaah Islamiyah was founded and what its actual link with al Qaeda may be. Jemaah Islamiyah is still shrouded in mystery; most arrested members are not cooperating with authorities and have recanted whatever confessions they have made. They are protecting their leader, as a manual discovered in the possession of one prescribes them to do. Some of those arrested in Singapore are fully cooperating with authorities, however, and they date the creation of the Jemaah Islamiyah to 1993.
In Southeast Asia, teachers command strong personal loyalty from their students. This loyalty may be lifelong, as illustrated by the three Jemaah Islamiyah convicts incarcerated in Singapore, who testified against their former teacher Abu Bakar Baasyir in June 2003. Despite their damning testimony, two spontaneously started to cry at the sight of their teacher. They repeated that they loved him but urged him to tell the truth about his activities.
A common popular belief is that the global Salafi mujahedin were recruited at mosques, where they underwent some sort of brainwashing. Places of worship do figure prominently in the affiliation to the global Salafi jihad, as it is part of a Muslim revivalist movement. Indeed, several mosques became prominent in the process of affiliation to the jihad: in London, the Finsbury Park and the Baker Street Mosques under Mustafa Kamel (a.k.a. Abu Hamza al-Masri) and Omar Mahmud Othman (a.k.a. Abu Qatada), respectively; the Islamic Cultural Center in Milan, first under Anwar Shaaban and then under Abdel Qader Es Sayed; the Abu Bakr Mosque under Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas in Madrid; the Al-Quds Mosque in Hamburg; the Al-Dawah Mosque in Roubaix, France; the Assuna Annabawiyah Mosque in Montreal; the Al-Seqley Mosque in Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia; and the Al-Faruq Mosque in Brooklyn, New York.
These mosques served many functions in the transformation of young alienated Muslims into global Salafi mujahedin. A mosque was an ideal place to meet familiar people, namely fellow Muslims—an important desire in upwardly and geographically mobile young men who missed the community of their friends and family. Friendship groups formed around the mosques, as we saw in the millennial plot and Hamburg cell accounts. Each new group became a "bunch of guys," transforming its members into potential mujahedin, actively seeking to join the global jihad. In the sample of one hundred mujahedin with adequate background information, thirteen provided an account of affiliation to the jihad inspired only by their religious beliefs and without the intervention of friends. This may actually overestimate this group, since the mujahedin traditionally account for joining the jihad as a religious revelation without acknowledging the importance of friends, kin, or teachers.
So far I have focused on the process of association with the jihad, and I have argued that social bonds predating formal recruitment into the jihad seem to be the crucial element of this process. However, the global Salafi jihad is not simply a political movement. It is also a religious revivalist movement, and the mosques are where the intensification of religious sentiment takes place, transforming potential mujahedin into dedicated fanatics. The "bunch of guys" incubation goes only so far; it might be enough to make a dedicated political militant or a gang member (see Jankowski, 1991). But it will not produce a religious fanatic, ready to sacrifice himself for the glory of God. This requires a religious dimension, acquired only in places of worship.
Not everyone is responsive to religious appeal. Atheists would not be attracted to a rigorous religious ideology, nor would they go to the mosque to meet friends. Those receptive to a religious appeal accept the notion of an active supernatural dimension. Such belief is facilitated by an intimate familiarity with concepts of faith, as in a person raised in a religious household. Present deep commitment to a religion, however, would bar the development of a new commitment. All things being equal, people who are satisfied with their religion will not seek a new more demanding sect. Those who are already committed to a particular sectarian outlook may simply choose to pursue it in a new setting. Therefore, the Muslims most receptive to global Salafi ideology grew up with religion but either were no longer committed to it or already embraced Salafism. Most Core Arabs were committed to a Wahhabi or Salafi version of Islam as children, whereas the Maghreb Arabs were essentially uncommitted to religion (see Chapter 3). Individuals in both clusters were familiar enough with Islam to seek people sharing this generic background. When shown pictures of Muslims suffering because of wars, they began to feel a common bond of victimhood based on Islam. Usually, people will not seek new religious or social affiliations except after some significant change that disrupts their social networks. Examples of such changes could be upward or geographical mobility, a new school, marriage, or imprisonment. The last one may account for various "born-again" experiences or conversions in prison. I touched on marriages in the section on kinship. But most of the sample experienced such disruptions due to social or geographical mobility or admission to a new school, often abroad.
Religion is about one's relationship with God. Contrary to some popular beliefs about solitary faith, this relationship is strongly grounded in social processes. Islam is one of the most communal of all religions, with many orchestrated shared rituals. Besides the obvious conviviality of fellowship, religion also entails a commitment involving affective, behavioral, and cognitive components that mutually reinforce each other. Emotions are important in religion and are usually ordinary, natural and positive emotions directed to God and the community of worshippers. Islam prescribes regular behavioral practices such as praying, often in groups, five times daily. It also proscribes many practices, depending on the interpretations one accepts. Salafi Islam is very strict in its code of conduct and prescribes various codes of appearance, dress, diet, and conduct, especially vis-à-vis gender roles. Salafists believe in a literal interpretation of the Quran and the life of the Prophet, and in the necessity of imposing Sharia in the state and protecting the faithful from corruption by Western values. The elegance and simplicity of its interpretations attract many who seek a single solution devoid of ambiguity. Very often these persons have already chosen such unambiguous technical fields as engineering, architecture, computer science, or medicine. Students of the humanities and social sciences were few and far between in my sample.
Like many religions, Islam demands commitment to God in terms of faith and trust. Adherents view their sacrifices in terms of that commitment. Faith and religious explanations are nourished socially, by others' proclamations of faith. To the extent that people trust significant others, they rely on their wisdom, experience, and testimony and accept their expressions of faith. They also place greater trust on the testimony of people who have sacrificed in the service of God. The Arabic word for witness, shahid, is also the word for martyr. Martyrdom is a profession of faith, shuhada. A testimonial from one who has little to gain from his faith on this earth is most credible. So, by his actions and lifestyle, Osama bin Laden demonstrated the strength of his faith by living in poverty and humility, and giving up a more luxurious and leisurely life in the name of God. Likewise, Mustafa Kamel (Abu Hamza al-Masri), who lost limbs and sight during the jihad, and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is blind, are also credible witnesses because their personal tragedies do not deter them from proclaiming their faith in God.
Participation in rituals builds faith and generates group solidarity and integration. Rituals reinforce religious explanations and faith in God and in the community of believers. Prayers are acts of faith that build bonds of affection and confidence with God and the community of believers. In Islam, they are communal acts involving a sense of sharing and bonding. They bring spiritual phenomena to life, especially when people feel the presence of God during prayers. Each act reinforces the reality of the message, the bond with God and the community. Perceived miracles, such as the defeat of a superpower through faith alone (the Soviet Afghan war), also increase confidence in the righteousness of the cause. Mystical experiences during prayers or dreams demonstrate the existence of God and reinforce faith. In a videotape in the fall of 2001 Osama bin Laden said that he had banned the reporting of dreams of airplanes flying into buildings prior to September 11 for fear of revealing the plot.
Ideology also played a central role in sustaining commitment to this version of Islam. Although affiliation is a social phenomenon, intensification of faith and beliefs is a stage characterized by active personal learning about the new faith. New adherents listen carefully to preachers and friends, question them, and eventually reach some form of synthetic understanding of their new faith, which they finally choose to embrace. This period involves a reappraisal of life, values, beliefs, and goals. The seekers do not simply succumb to preaching. They progressively accept the new faith because it makes sense in their new interpretation of the world and their role in it. This learning process involves intense social interactions, but it also requires intense introspection. Past biographical experiences are reinterpreted in accordance with the new faith and provide vivid proof of its superiority. This discovery of a strong fit of past events with the new interpretation is critical to the acceptance of and fosters long-term commitment to the new faith. In this ongoing process, new events are made to fit with the new ideology. Social support and interpretation also help this process.
This progressive participation in a strict and rigorous interpretation of Islam brought about a shift in devotion in most of our sample through the various processes described in this section. This intensification of religious feelings and conversion to Salafi Islam took place in a strong social context. It made the prospective mujahed's religious affect, behavior, and thinking conform to that of his friends and kin. This made him even closer to his social group.
Salafi behavioral prescriptions demand sacrifices for the sake of the group. Becoming a Salafist involves great personal costs, often including rejection by one's former friends, family, or even employer, if they do not approve of the group or its attitudes. Furthermore, Salafi behavior is all highly visible for all to see. It is a proclamation of one's faith in God. Growing one's beard, dressing like a traditional Muslim, and giving up some of one's pleasures are sacrifices for God and the true community. This distances new devotees from their original network of friends and family but draws them closer to other Salafists, whose good opinion becomes their only reference. Only the most motivated and dedicated will be willing to bear the social, personal, and economic costs of becoming a Salafist. Those who feel that society as a whole has the least to offer them are the most likely to join. This points to the importance of relative or subjective deprivation in combination with the social isolation thesis developed in Chapter 3. Disappointment with one's social and economic condition combined with the relative lack of social attachment to the world encourages participation in sectarian practices, especially in the presence of unopposed strong bonding to people already in the sect. The more active one's participation in the sect, the stronger will be the bonds with other members as well as one's faith and commitment to the new sect. Only individuals with serious, albeit temporary distress, who feel that they have little to lose, would accept such severe upfront costs of joining and tolerate the strict regimentation and state of high tension with society that participation in the sect involves. This hardship, in turn, increases the emotional commitment to fellow members and fosters a sense of serenity, relieving the previous distress, from spiritual acceptance of sectarian beliefs.
The process of becoming a member of a religious community has traditionally been explained by mass movement theories. The argument is that religious organizations, like other social movements, gather a following through the strength of direct ideological appeals to atomized and alienated masses of people. Autobiographical accounts of members tell stories of revelation and progressive acceptance of the specific ideology. But such retrospective self-reports are biased, as previously mentioned. A variant of this ideological appeal thesis is a version of the Marxist "religion is the opiate of the masses" argument. It claims that religion provides ideological and emotional compensation for the masses' real social and economic deprivation. It therefore appeals to those most open to such compensation, especially those believing in otherworldly rewards for present worldly deprivation. Such ideologies, with their promises of heavenly compensation, make deprivation more bearable. There may be some truth in this thesis for some people. But again, it runs aground on the fundamental problem of specificity. It does not explain the formation of a global Salafi mujahed, except perhaps in the statistical sense that at least a very small random number of individuals might be motivated to carry this ideological commitment to its extreme.
The ideological appeal thesis implies that people would randomly join the movement simply by being exposed to its ideology. The stronger the exposure, the greater the recruitment would be. Historically, joining al Qaeda was definitely not a random process. One of its surprising features was its complete failure to recruit members where its headquarters and training camps were located. In its short history, its headquarters were located in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, and Afghanistan again. Yet, no Afghans or Sudanese joined the organization when it was located in these countries. Wali Khan Amin Shah, the only significant Afghan to join the global jihad (although not formally, for he was part of Abdul Basit Karim's group), was a personal friend of bin Laden from the 1980s, before al Qaeda was formed. The Sudanese, Jamal al-Fadl, had joined the organization before the move to the Sudan. Therefore, the bonds of terror did not form spontaneously by mere exposure as implied in the mass ideological appeal thesis.
The flaw in this thesis is its individualistic perspective that cannot capture the sectarian phenomenon. Revivalist social movements like the global Salafi jihad are vigorous social enterprises. They provide immediate social and emotional rewards of close community and a sense of totality and meaning. Religious faith and beliefs are grounded in social interactions. With few exceptions, which by their rarity attract attention, loners or even pairs of individuals are seldom able to sustain strong otherworldly commitments without strong social support. In the absence of such support, beliefs and faith fade. During the wait for heavenly rewards, a religious revivalist community sustains its members with strong social and emotional benefits, which give a general sense of direction to their lives and opportunities for involvement in a cause.
The processes of social affiliation with potential members of the jihad and intensification of beliefs and faith are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for joining the jihad. The critical and specific element to joining the jihad is the accessibility of a link to the jihad. Without it, the group of friends, kin, pupils, and worshippers will undergo a process of progressive isolation. They may try to participate in the jihad, but without know-how or resources. Although lethal, their operations do not constitute a serious threat to society. Only the global jihad, with its organization, resources, and skills, poses such a danger.
These patterns show that the pool of potential mujahedin is composed of small clusters of close friends, relatives, worshippers, and disciples, who are connected through strong bonds. As such they all know each other's close friends, who would also be part of this group. This promotes intense social cohesion in terms of views and loyalty and a strong sense of community with mutual emotional support. The group becomes self-sufficient and closed in on itself. This social isolation protects the group, but prevents it from linking with other movements in the outside world. This becomes a weakness if the group wants to join a larger social movement, like the global Salafi jihad. Not possessing any independent bridge to the jihad (under the ideal conditions, all the friends are strongly bonded to each other and no one else), they will not know how to join. Acquaintances, who are weakly connected to one or another of the friends but do not really belong to the circle, provide access to other groups in the world, for they are linked to others with whom the original friends have no ties. Hannachi and Zammar are good illustrations of such bridges to the outside world. So was Kamal Derwish, who made the arrangement for the Afghan training of the Lackawanna Six. The "strength of weak ties" (Granovetter, 1973 and 1983) plays an important role in a social movement like the global jihad that links multiple independent clusters of closely connected friends who want to join but do not know how.
This perhaps chance encounter with a formal member of the global Salafi jihad is the critical element leading to enrollment into the jihad. Without someone able to make arrangements to send him to Afghanistan, where senior members of the jihad could further evaluate him, a prospective candidate would remain a sympathizer rather than become a full-fledged mujahed. Formal acceptance into the jihad took place in Afghanistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, or the Sudan, after evaluation of the trainee in a jihad training camp. From the available information, al Qaeda offered the opportunity to join its ranks to only 10 to 30 percent of the trainees. The formal ceremony was the oath of loyalty, baya, to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The Jemaah Islamiyah had a similar ceremony in Malaysia. This formal acceptance marks the end of the three-prong process that had started with social affiliation to a group of like-minded friends or family and the twin intensification of militancy and faith that took place in small, densely connected groups.
Training in Afghanistan not only taught terroristic skills, but also built confidence and forged an esprit de corps among friends, cementing their identities as global mujahedin. This confidence was visible in Ressam after his return from Afghanistan.
The concepts of recruitment and brainwashing have not surfaced in the argument so far, partly because I have taken the perspective of the potential mujahedin. From this point of view, becoming a member of the global jihad is a process of joining. Recruitment is the same process, from the organization's perspective. The notion of recruitment implies an active process through which an organizational insider gets a new person to work for the organization. The account usually shows the "recruiter" in a heroic light, overcoming reluctance on the part of the target. The popularity of such accounts probably comes from the fact that many commentators on terrorism have an intelligence background. Here recruitment means agent acquisition to provide clandestine foreign intelligence. This is dangerous work, for if discovered, the agent will face years in prison if he is not killed outright. Most people are reluctant to do it. The main themes of an agent acquisition cycle are clandestine spotting, assessing, developing, and formally pitching the agent. For an intelligence officer, recruitment leads to promotion. I am skeptical of this type of account of agent acquisition. I suspect that the majority of agents are volunteers, "walk-ins" in the jargon. But such facts would not advance the career of a case officer. So the difficulty of agent acquisition is emphasized as a self-serving claim for promotion within the organization. By now, it has attained mythical status.
It is a small jump to generalize agent acquisition from intelligence organizations to the global jihad. The process of joining the jihad, however, is more of a bottom-up than a top-down activity. A lot of Muslim young men want to join the jihad but do not know how. Joining the jihad is more akin to the process of applying to a highly selective college. Many try to get in but only a few succeed, and the college's role is evaluation and selection rather than marketing. Candidates are enthusiastic rather than reluctant. So far, I have read no accounts of sinister al Qaeda "recruiters" lurking in mosques, ready to subvert naïve and passive worshippers, although I have looked for them. Ressam twice described the process of joining al Qaeda. For his own formal affiliation, he asked Hannachi, who had just returned from training. When he himself returned from training, two people asked him to facilitate their joining the jihad. One of them, Meskini, described the frustrations of his past failures to join the jihad to his childhood friend Haouari (Adams, 2001). Personal acquaintances vouched for the candidate to maintain the security of the organization. The problem was that this process, which favored personal friends, acquaintances, relatives, and fellow worshippers, was not selective enough. It required a period of observation in training camp to evaluate whether the potential candidate was worthy of being offered a spot. Zuhair Hilal al-Tbaiti, who was convicted in Morocco for his plot against U.S. ships in the Straits of Gibraltar in 2002, admitted that he had first been rejected because of his poor performance in military and religious training. He was also rejected for a suicide mission to the United States, which he believed might have been the 9/11 operation. Only the dispersal of al Qaeda as a result of U.S. bombing and the overthrow of the Taliban government gave him the opportunity to participate in an operation (Ilhami, 2002).
One of the surprising aspects of the global Salafi movement, given its notoriety and ubiquity, is the relative lack of resources invested in any recruitment drive. I did not detect any active top-down organizational push to increase al Qaeda's membership. The pressure came from the bottom up. Prospective mujahedin were eager to join the movement. The proselytizing arm of Salafi Islam is the peaceful Tablighi group, which actively seeks to convert young Muslims to its version of Islam. Tablighi students come to Pakistan to study. Perhaps some al Qaeda "recruiters" came to the Tablighi schools to inspire some students to join the jihad and succeeded in convincing some students to take military training at al Qaeda camps in neighboring Afghanistan. After assessment at the camp, the prospective candidate might have been formally invited to join the jihad. But generally, these activities took place only in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or perhaps Saudi Arabia. They were not part of a worldwide top-down campaign to increase membership. No aggressive "publicity" campaigns targeted potential recruits; no dedicated recruitment committee had full-time staff at al Qaeda headquarters (except a reception committee in Peshawar for people already on their way to the camps), and no powerful recruitment program drew on a budget dedicated to these activities.
This is surprising because Sheikh Abdullah Azzam had established such a successful campaign to recruit mujahedin against the Soviets in the 1980s. Indeed, the organization he created, the Mekhtab al-Khidemat (the Service Bureau), a forerunner of al Qaeda, was in essence the institutionalization of a permanent recruitment campaign. Nothing comparable to Azzam's work exists in the present global Salafi jihad. Some audiotapes, videotapes, books, and magazines can be found in selected Salafi mosque bookstores. These mosques were listed above and are led by imams sympathetic to the jihad if not outright members of it. The groups of friends spontaneously assembling in such mosques constitute the main venue for joining the jihad. Their intense interactions facilitate the process of conversion, culminating in their readiness to join the jihad. But there is no evidence that this was an intentional process, conceived, planned, and executed by al Qaeda. The movement invested a surprisingly small amount of resources in its expansion. So far, the concept of recruitment as an active organizational process is not relevant for the global Salafi jihad.