After Russia invaded Afghanistan, we sent aid through Pakistan to the Mujahideen to fight the Russians. Obviously, we needed cooperation from Pakistan to carry out this operation. Probably the most important weapons we sent the Mujahideen were the Stinger missiles. Stinger missiles are shoulder mounted, surface to air, heat seeking missiles. The Mujahideen used these weapons to shoot down Russian helicopters and airplanes.
We also sent them fighters we recruited. One of our recruitment centers was called the Al Kifah Refugee Center, which was located inside Masjid Al Farooq, a mosque located in Brooklyn. Though this organization was known as the Al Kifah Refugee Center in America, it was part of a larger organization called Maktab al-Khidmat. Actually, the name of the organization is somewhat longer, but when translated into English, its name is something like the Afghan Office of Services of the Holy Warrior. Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden founded this organization. After the Russians left Afghanistan, someone assassinated Abdullah Azzam and Maktab al-Khidmat morphed into Al Qaeda.
In the early 90s, a group of worshippers who went to Masjid Al Farooq committed several acts of terrorism in New York. These terrorists also went to another mosque in New Jersey called Masjid al-Salam.
One of the members of this group of terrorists was El Sayyid Nosair. On November 5, 1990, Nosair assassinated Meir Kahane, an ultra-nationalist Rabbi. A week after the assassination, the FBI started an investigation into Masjid al-Salam and the people associated with that mosque. The FBI told the New York Times that the assassination of Kahane gave the FBI a window into several radical fundamentalist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and several splinter groups associated with the Brotherhood (see article 1). In that article, the FBI said it worried that those groups might carry out a terrorist act in America. Amazingly, a week later, the New York Times ran another article (see article 2) in which Robert Morgenthau, a district attorney, claimed that the government had no evidence linking Nosair to any terrorist organization in the Middle East. Of course, there was a link. One of the people who preached at Masjid Al Farooq and Masjid al-Salam was Omar Abdel Rahman. He was the spiritual leader of both Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Group. Both of these groups were splinter groups of the Muslim Brotherhood. I assume the FBI was referring to these two groups when it said that splinter groups of the Brotherhood had set up shop in New York. By the way, Ayman al-Zawahri was the second emir of Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
Both of these two terrorist organizations had a notorious record. On October 6, 1981, Egyptian Islamic Jihad assassinated Anwar El Sadat, the former president of Egypt. Omar Abdel Rahman issued a fatwa authorizing the assassination. Amazingly, Egypt put him on trial and found him innocent. The acquittal was especially amazing given the defense put up by his lawyer. His lawyer claimed that Rahman issued the fatwa but the fatwa didn’t mention Sadat by name. Therefore, Rahman wasn’t responsible.
“They asked for a religious stand about a ruler who is ruling against Islamic law,” said Saad Hasaballah, his lawyer. “He did not specify Sadat and the members of the Jihad Organization did not specify Sadat for him.”
On December 16, 1990, the New York Times wrote a story (see article 3) which said that Omar Abdel Rahman was living in Brooklyn, that he was linked to the people who assassinated Anwar El Sadat, that he goes to the same mosque that El Sayyid Nosair went to, and that many Egyptians believe that Rahman is the spiritual leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. In that story, the State Department acknowledged that it should not have allowed Rahman entry into America. By the way, I assume the New York Times found out that Rahman was living in New York due to the investigation into Nosair. Apparently, after reading the story, the government revoked his visa (see article 4). But instead of deporting him, in April of 1991, it granted him permanent residency status.
On February 26, 1993, the group of terrorists connected to Omar Abdel Rahman, Masjid al-Salam, and Masjid Al Farooq bombed the World Trade Center. Given the fact that the government knew about Rahman, and those two mosques due both to the war in Afghanistan and the assassination of Meir Kahane, it seems incredible that the government failed to prevent the same group of people from carrying out another terrorist attack. What’s more, other governments even warned us about that group of terrorists (see article 5). Egypt told America about the group before they bombed the World Trade Center.
“It could have been prevented if you listened to our advice,” said Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt.
By the way, the person who led the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center was Ramzi Yousef. His uncle is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who planned the second attack on the World Trade Centers.
And perhaps most amazingly of all, after the bombing of the World Trade Center, we still didn’t arrest Omar Abdel Rahman. We didn’t indict him until August 25. Interestingly enough, five days prior to his indictment. Israel and the PLO completed the negotiations for the Oslo Accords. I believe America failed to indict Rahman until after the Oslo Accords were completed so that America could put pressure on Egypt. At that time, Egypt was suffering through a string of terrorist attacks carried out by the Islamic Group, the organization headed by Omar Abdel Rahman. I’m sure Egypt was very relieved when we finally arrested Rahman.