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Al-Qaeda’s Early Incarnation Had 33 US Offices

The Soviet-Afghan War started in late 1979 and ended in 1989. The insurgent groups known as “the Mujahideen” fought against the Soviet Army and allied Afghan forces. “The Mujahideen” was the first metamorphosis of Al Qaeda. Many of “the Mujahideen”’s forces came to Afghanistan from different countries including the Arab world. 

Al-Qaeda’s late leader Osama Bin Laden and another founding member of the militant group, Abdullah Azzam, established in 1984 the Office of Services in Pakistan to recruit an Islamic army to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. After Maktab al-Khadamat and the Kifah Refugees Center, Bin Laden also established “Beit al-Ansar” for those who wanted to get recruited and trained for fighting in Afghanistan.
His organization engaged in fundraising and recruitment. It later opened 33 branches in US cities, with its first US office opening in Tucson city in Arizona in 1984 and its main branch opening in 1986 in Brooklyn, New York, officially registered as the “Al-Kifah Center, Farouq Mosque.” 

Two of the aides in the office were Mohammed Abu Halima, who was later accused for  being involved in bombing the World Trade Center in 1993 in New York, and  Al-Sayid Nasir, who murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York in 1990. Mac Williams, an FBI agent, said the US embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul was involved in the recruitment of Arab fighters to fight the Soviets. The CIA was involved in financing the Arab fighters in Afghanistan, according to a letter by Algerian Abdullah Anas, a brother-in-law of Azzam. 

Azzam used to go to the United States every year to attend conferences and lecture American Muslims about fighting in Afghanistan.
Only after a few years did US officials become concerned about the growing radicalism between Arab and Afghan fighters who started to flow to Afghanistan from all over the world.

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