Abdul Rasul Sayyaf

Abdul Rasul Sayyaf

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Ustad Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf ' onMouseout='HidePop("57644")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Paghman">Paghman
Paghman
Paghman is a town in the hills near Kabul, Afghanistan. See also Paghman Gardens. It is center of the Paghman District which has a total population of 120,000 people, and another 20,000 returnees are expected , of which 70% are Pashtuns and 30% Tajiks.. Paghman District is situated in the western...

 Valley, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

) is an Afghan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 Islamist
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 politician. He took part in the war against the PDPA
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was a communist party established on the 1 January 1965. While a minority, the party helped former president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, to overthrow his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and established Daoud's Republic of Afghanistan...

 government in the 1980s, leading the Mujahedin faction Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan
Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan
The Islamic Dawah Organization of Afghanistan is a political party in Afghanistan led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. Founded in the early 1980s as the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan , it was originally an attempt to bring unity amongst Islamist opposition forces in Afghanistan...

.

During the war, he received patronage from Arab sources and mobilized Arab volunteers for the Mujahedin forces. Sayyaf is said to have been the one who first invited Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 to Afghanistan, after bin Laden's 1996 expulsion from Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 by the otherwise sympathetic Sudanese régime
Politics of Sudan
Officially, the politics of Sudan takes place in the framework of a presidential representative democratic consociationalist republic, where the President of Sudan is Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces in a multi-party system...

 under Saudi, Egyptian, and American pressure.

In 2005, Sayyaf's Ittehad-al-Islami (or Islamic Union) was converted into the political party
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

, the Islamic Dawah Organisation of Afghanistan. He has been considered a member of the Northern Alliance, despite his close relationship with militant groups such as Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 that opposed it. He has also been accused of having knowingly assisted the two assassins that killed Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud in a suicide bomb blast two days before September 11, 2001.

Biography


Sayyaf is an ethnic Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

. He is fluent in Arabic and holds a degree in religion from Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 University and a masters from the illustrious Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University is an educational institute in Cairo, Egypt. Founded in 970~972 as a madrasa, it is the chief centre of Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world. It is the oldest degree-granting university in Egypt. In 1961 non-religious subjects were added to its curriculum.It is...

 in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. He has been described as "a big, beefy man with fair skin and a thick gray beard." Sayyaf is reported to be approximately six feet three in height and weigh 250 pounds. "He usually wears a white skullcap or a large turban, and a traditional Afghan shalwar kameez, a tunic with loose pants."

Sayyaf was a member of the Afghan-based Ikhwan al-Muslimin
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

, founded in 1969 by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is an Afghan Mujahideen leader who is the founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami political party and paramilitary group. Hekmatyar was a rebel military commander during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and was one of the key figures in the civil war that followed the...

 and Dr. Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

 and having strong links to the original and much larger Muslim Brotherhood
History of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Ismailia, Egypt by Hassan al-Banna in March 1928 as an Islamist religious, political, and social movement...

 in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Ustad (Professor) Abdul was a professor at a small Islamic university called The Shariat in Kabul until 1973, when he plotted with Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani was President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996. After the Taliban government was toppled during Operation Enduring Freedom, Rabbani returned to Kabul and served as a temporary President from November to December 20, 2001, when Hamid Karzai was...

 and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to overthrow President Daoud Khan. The coup failed and he was forced to flee to Pakistan but was arrested when he returned.

Soviet time and Bin Laden friendship


Being imprisoned by the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)
People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan
The People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan was a communist party established on the 1 January 1965. While a minority, the party helped former president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Daoud Khan, to overthrow his cousin, Mohammed Zahir Shah, and established Daoud's Republic of Afghanistan...

 in April, 1978, he was freed in controversial circumstances by the second PDPA leader Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin
Hafizullah Amin was the second President of Afghanistan during the period of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan....

, who, coincidentally, happened to be Sayyaf's distant relative. Although, by virtue of him being incarcerated, and, consequently not arriving in Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 until 1980, until after the actual Soviet intervention, he was recognized by the Pakistanis as the leader of the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan (Ittihad-i-Islami Baraye Azadi Afghanistan), a coalition of several parties fighting the Soviet and Afghan government forces. The Islamic Union soon imploded, and Sayyaf retained the name as the title of his own organization.

Sayyaf fought against Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 occupying forces in Afghanistan during the 1980s, and was generously financed and apparently favoured by Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, seemingly due to his close religious affinities with the Wahhabist Saudi Royal and religious establishment and abovementioned excellent command of the Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

. During jihad against Soviets he formed a close relationship with Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

. Together in the Jalalabad area they established a training camp network, later used by Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 personnel, with bunkers and emplacements. In 1981, Sayyaf formed and headed the Ittihad-i-Islami Baraye Azadi Afghanistan , or Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan
Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan
The Islamic Dawah Organization of Afghanistan is a political party in Afghanistan led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. Founded in the early 1980s as the Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan , it was originally an attempt to bring unity amongst Islamist opposition forces in Afghanistan...

. In 1985, he founded a university in an Afghan refugee camp near Peshawar
Peshawar
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the administrative center and central economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan....

 called Dawa'a al-Jihad
Dawa'a al-Jihad
Dawa'a al-Jihad was a militant university established at an Afghan refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf in the 1980s....

, (Call of Jihad), which has been described the "preeminent school for terrorism." Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, who masterminded the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, attended it.

Despite his growing wealth, he continued to live a spartan life, avoiding modern conveniences like mattresses and air conditioning; although he enjoyed a nightly game of tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

.

During the post-war period, Sayyaf retained his training camps, using them for militarily training and indoctrinating new recruits to fight in Islamic-backed conflicts such as Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

, and in the Southern Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, where his name inspired the Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf
Abu Sayyaf also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya is one of several military Islamist separatist groups based in and around the southern Philippines, in Bangsamoro where for almost 30 years various Muslim groups have been engaged in an insurgency for an independent province in the country...

 group.
Also, in these camps, Sayyaf trained and mentored the soon-to-be-infamous, Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

i-born, future Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 operative and senior commander, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after being introduced by the latter's brother, Zahid, during the Afghan Jihad in 1987.

War in Afghanistan (1989-1996)


After the forced withdrawal of the demoralised Soviet forces in 1989, and the overthrow of the Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

 regime in 1992, Sayyaf's organization's human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 record became noticeably worse, underlined by their involvement in the infamous massacres and rampages in the Hazara Kabul neighbourhood of Afshar
Afshar Operation
The Afshar Operation was a military operation by Burhanuddin Rabbani's Islamic State of Afghanistan government forces against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami and Hezbe Wahdat forces....

. In 1993, during the Afghan civil war, Sayyaf's faction was responsible for, "repeated human butchery", when his faction of Mujahideen turned on civilians and the Shia Hezb-i Wahdat group. Amnesty International reported that Sayyaf's forces rampaged through the mainly Shi'ite Tajik (Qizilbash) Afshar
Afshar
Afshar is a district of Kabul, Afghanistan. Most of its population are of the Shia-Hazara ethnic group....

 neighbourhood of Kābul, slaughtering and raping inhabitants and burning homes.

War in Afghanistan (1996-2001)


Sayyaf claimed and claims he is a vituperative opponent of the like-minded Taliban movement, which is the reason he officially joined the Northern Alliance
Northern Alliance
The Afghan Northern Alliance is a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996.Northern Alliance may also refer to:*Northern Alliance , a Canadian white supremacist group...

, despite his aforementioned religious and ideological affinities with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Sayyaf is said to have helped the Arab suicide assassins that killed anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Shah Massoud during their preparations, raising suspicion he was involved in killing Massoud. Massoud was killed when the Arab suicide attackers posing as journalists detonated a bomb hidden in their video camera.

Constitutional Loya Jirga (2003)


In 2003, Sayyaf was elected as one of the 502 representatives at the Constitutional Loya Jirga
Loya jirga
A loya jirga is a type of jirga regarded as "grand assembly," a phrase in the Pashto language meaning "grand council." A loya jirga is a mass meeting usually prepared for major events such as choosing a new king, adopting a constitution, or discussing important national political or emergency...

 in Kabul, chairing one of the working groups. Originally wanted Loya Jirga intended to divide the 502 delegates randomly among 10 working groups, but Sayyaf objected, suggesting delegates be divided among the groups to ensure equal distribution of professional expertise, provincial origin, gender and other criteria. "Those who know the constitution, the ulema
Ulema
Ulama , also spelt ulema, refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several fields of Islamic studies. They are best known as the arbiters of shari‘a law...

 [Islamic scholars], and the lawyers should be split into different groups so that the results of the discussion and debate will be positive, and closer to each other," said Sayyaf.

Abdul Sayyaf's influence in the convention was felt further when his ally Fazal Hadi Shinwari was appointed by Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in violation of the constitution, as Fazal was over the age limit and trained only in religious, not secular, law. Shinwari packed the Supreme Court with sympathetic mullahs, called for Taliban-style punishments and renewed Taliban's dreaded Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, renamed the Ministry of Haj and Religious Affairs.

Present Activities


As of 2007, Sayyaf is an influential member of parliament and has called for an amnesty
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

 for former mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

, as well as pushing for a bill that would prevent the Mujaheddin from being charged with war crimes, upsetting groups that hold him responsible for thousands of civilian deaths.

9/11 Commission Report


The 9/11 Commission Report
9/11 Commission Report
The 9/11 Commission Report, formally named Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, is the official report of the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 attacks...

 mentions that Sayyaf was a mentor to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, chief manager of the "planes operation" which culminated in the quadruple hijackings of September 11, 2001. Although officially a member of the Northern Alliance, Sayyaf is said to have assisted the assassins posing as journalists that killed anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Shah Massoud by detonating a bomb hidden in their video camera. There are thus suspicions he was involved in the preparations for killing Massoud.

Abu Sayyaf group


In Kathy Gannon's "I is for Infidel, From Holy War to Holy Terror: 18 Years in Afghanistan," Gannon mentions the Abu Sayyaf group, a Philippine terrorist organization, "was named for him by its founder Abdurajak Janjalani. Janjalani was a student and a disciple of his who received military training from him." Jon Lee Anderson of The New Yorker also mentions that "when the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 and many of the foreign jihadis moved on, a group of Ittihad members—some of them native Filipinos and some of them Arabs—formed the Abu Sayyaf terrorist organization in the Philippines".