The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad review – recent history at its finest

The Guardian

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Thomas Hegghammer delivers a meticulously researched account of a charismatic Islamist

Abdallah Azzam is not exactly a household name – at least when compared with the far more notorious Osama bin Laden. But the militant Palestinian cleric who inspired and mobilised Arabs to come to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet Union in the 1980s is the most important jihadist figure before the birth of al-Qaida and the continuing consequences of the 9/11 attacks on the US.

Azzam is still revered by many who believe that the Islamic ummah (community/nation) matters more and has greater legitimacy than individual authoritarian Arab and Muslim states. Mosques, fighting units, training camps and websites have been named after him since he was assassinated in Pakistan in 1989. Fans maintain Twitter and Telegram accounts. Uncritical and heroic accounts of his achievements abound – in Arabic and English.

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