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Library of Congress – Federal Research Division

The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism


Group Profile

In February 1998, bin Laden announced the formation of an umbrella
organization called the Islamic World Front for the Struggle against the Jews and
the Crusaders (Al-Jabhah al-Islamiyyah al-`Alamiyyah li-Qital al-Yahud
wal-Salibiyyin). Among the announced members of this terrorist organization are
the Egyptian Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah, the Egyptian Al-Jihad, the Egyptian Armed
Group, the Pakistan Scholars Society, the Partisan Movement for Kashmir, the
Jihad Movement in Bangladesh, and bin Laden’s Afghan military wing of the
Advice and Reform Commission (Bodansky: 316). Unlike most terrorist groups,
Al-Qaida is more of a home base and financier for a global network of
participating Islamic groups.

According to Bodansky (308-9), bin Laden and his close advisers live in a three-
chamber cave in eastern Afghanistan, in the mountains near Jalalabad. One room
is used as bin Laden’s control and communications center and is equipped with a
state-of-the-art satellite communications system, which includes, in addition to a
satellite telephone, a desktop computer, at least a couple laptops, and fax
machines. Another room is used for storage of weapons such as AK-47s,
mortars, and machine guns. A third room houses a large library of Islamic
literature and three cots. His immediate staff occupy cave bunkers in nearby

Bin Laden is ingratiating himself with his hosts, the Taliban, by undertaking a
massive reconstruction of Qandahar. In the section reserved for the Taliban elite,
bin Laden has built a home of his own, what Bodansky (312) describes as “a
massive stone building with a tower surrounded by a tall wall on a side street
just across from the Taliban’s “foreign ministry” building.” Bin Laden’s project
includes the construction of defensive military camps around the city. In addition,
in the mountains east of Qandahar, bin Laden is building bunkers well concealed
and fortified in mountain ravines.

After the U.S. cruise missile attack against his encampment on August 20, 1998,
bin Laden began building a new headquarters and communications center in a
natural cave system in the Pamir Mountains in Kunduz Province, very close to the
border with Tajikistan. According to Bodansky (312-13), the new site will be
completed by the first half of 2000.

Bodanksy (326) reports that, since the fall of 1997, bin Laden has been
developing chemical weapons at facilities adjacent to the Islamic Center in Soba,

Library of Congress – Federal Research Division

The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism


Osama bin Laden
(AP Photo; www.cnn.com)

one of his farms located southwest of Khartoum, Sudan. Meanwhile, since the
summer of 1998 bin Laden has also been preparing terrorist operations using
biological, chemical, and possibly radiological weapons at a secret compound
near Qandahar.

By 1998 a new generation of muhajideen was being trained at bin Laden’s
camps in eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bin Laden’s Afghan forces consist of
more than 10,000 trained fighters, including almost 3,000 Arab Afghans, or
Armed Islamic Movement (AIM), which is also known as the International Legion
of Islam. According to Bodansky (318-19), Egyptian intelligence reported that
these Arab Afghans total 2,830, including 177 Algerians, 594 Egyptians, 410
Jordanians, 53 Moroccans, 32 Palestinians, 162 Syrians, 111 Sudanese, 63
Tunisians, 291 Yemenis, 255 Iraqis, and others from the Gulf states. The
remaining 7,000 or so fighters are Bangladeshis, Chechens, Pakistanis, Tajiks,
Uzbeks, and other nationalities. Bodansky (318) reports that the 5,000 trainees at
one training center in Afghanistan are between 16 and 25 years of age and from
all over the world. The Martyrdom Battalions are composed of human bombs
being trained to carry out spectacular terrorist operations.

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