In the late 1980s, two new leaders became prominent in radical Islam: Osama bin Laden from Saudi Arabia and Ayman al-Zawahiri from Egypt. Both of these men followed the ideology of a teacher named, Abdullah Azzam. The Investigative Project on Terrorism describes Azzam:
Azzam is more responsible than any Arab figure in modern history for galvanizing the Muslim masses to wage an international holy war against all infidels and non-believers until the enemies of Islam were defeated… Azzam helped bring about the mobilization of the Muslim Brotherhood movement more than any other leader. Today, the military wing of Hamas in the West Bank is called the Abdellah Azzam Brigades.
Al-Qaeda, which is Arabic for “the Base” was founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam recruited and trained thousands of “holy warriors” from more than fifty countries to fight in Afghanistan. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, al-Qaeda began to attack western interests around the world.
Al-Zawahiri took over the leadership of Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1993. In 1998, the group joined with five other radical groups including al-Qaeda to form the World Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders. One of the first joint acts of terror was the bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
When bin Laden was killed in May 2011, Ayman al-Zawahiri became the leader of al Qaeda – and still is. He has spent his life in “jihad” and is responsible for many terrorist attacks. He criticized the Brotherhood in his book “The Bitter Harvest”, condemning them for “taking advantage of the Muslim youths’ fervor by … steer[ing] their onetime passionate, Islamic zeal for jihad to conferences and elections.”
ISIS, a Sunni jihadi terrorist group had close links with al-Qaeda until February of 2014. The split between the groups came after al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was unable to stop fighting between ISIS and another rebel group, Jabhat al-Nusra. ISIS is known for its strict interpretation of Islamic (sharia) law and brutal violence including beheadings, rapes, and floggings.
Modern day terrorism started with Hassan al-Banna’s desire to see the Caliphate restored and continue today through groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The techniques for domination may differ from the Muslim Brotherhood, but the goal is ultimately the same.
Non-Islamic nations have very little understanding of the basic teachings of radical Islam and the seriousness of their message. Pray that our leaders will receive teaching about the radical side of political Islam and respond with God’s wisdom and insight to deal with the challenge and protect the innocent.