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Mujahideen (Template:Lang-ar Template:Transl, nominative plural مجاهدون Template:Transl, oblique plural مجاهدين Template:Transl "strugglers" or "people doing jihad") are Muslims who believe they struggle in the path of God.[1][2] The word is from the same Arabic triliteral root as jihad ("struggle").

Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn, mujahed and more.

History[edit | edit source]

Origin of the concept[edit | edit source]


Main article: Jihad

The beginnings of Jihad are traced back to the words and actions of Muhammad and the Qur'an.[3] The people who helped Muhammad were referred to as Ansars ("helpers") and Muhajirs ("immigrants" who left due to years of persecution in Makkah, settling in Madinah ).[4] Then the Muhajireen's property was confiscated in Makkah, so Mohammed called upon the Muslims to participate in Jihad against Quraysh.

The earliest known expeditions they participated in were the Caravan raids, where they were given the task of intercepting Quraysh caravans. They also participated in other battles, such as the Battle of Badr and Uhud.[5][6]

The term Mujahideen was first used by the West to describe the mountainous sect of hillmen in Afghanistan who fought against British control (although initially to the British they were known as Sitana Fanatics). It began in 1829 when a religious man, Sayyid Ahmed Shah Brelwi, came back to the village of Sitana from a pilgrimage to Mecca and began preaching war against the infidels in the area defining the Northwest border of British India. Although the holy man died in battle, the sect he had created survived and the Mujahideen gained more power and prominence. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the Mujahideen were said to accept any fleeing Sepoys and recruit them into their ranks. As time went by the sect grew ever larger until it was raiding and controlling larger areas in Afghanistan.[7]

Middle Ages[edit | edit source]

Early Modern period[edit | edit source]

19th century[edit | edit source]

Modern Jihadism[edit | edit source]

Main article: Jihadism

The modern phenomenon of jihadism, i.e., the movement within radical Islamism that presents jihad (offensive or defensive) as the casus belli for insurgencies, guerilla warfare and international terrorism, dates back to the 1960s and draws on early-to-mid-20th century Islamist doctrines such as Qutbism.

Afghan Civil War[edit | edit source]

Main article: War in Afghanistan (1978–present)
File:Afghan Muja crossing from Saohol Sar pass in Durand border region of Pakistan, August 1985.png

Mujahideen fighters passing around the Durand Line border in 1985

The best-known mujahideen were the various loosely aligned Afghan opposition groups, which initially rebelled against the government of the pro-Soviet Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA) during the late 1970s. At the DRA's request, the Soviet Union intervened. The mujahideen then fought against Soviet and DRA troops during the Soviet War in Afghanistan. After the Soviet Union pulled out of the conflict in the late 1980s the mujahideen fought each other in the subsequent Afghan Civil War.[36]

Afghanistan's resistance movement was born in chaos and, at first, virtually all of its war was waged locally by regional warlords. As warfare became more sophisticated, outside support and regional coordination grew. Even so, the basic units of mujahideen organization and action continued to reflect the highly segmented nature of Afghan society.[37] Eventually, the seven main mujahideen parties allied themselves into the political bloc called Islamic Unity of Afghanistan Mujahideen.

Many Muslims from other countries assisted the various mujahideen groups in Afghanistan. Some groups of these veterans have been significant factors in more recent conflicts in and around the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden, originally from a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia, was a prominent organizer and financier of an all-Arab Islamist group of foreign volunteers; his Maktab al-Khadamat funnelled money, arms, and Muslim fighters from around the Muslim world into Afghanistan, with the assistance and support of the Saudi and Pakistani governments.[38] These foreign fighters became known as "Afghan Arabs" and their efforts were coordinated by Abdullah Yusuf Azzam.

US, Pakistani, Chinese, and other financing and support[edit | edit source]

"To watch the courageous Afghan freedom fighters battle modern arsenals with simple hand-held weapons is an inspiration to those who love freedom."

— U.S. President Ronald Reagan, March 21, 1983[39]

A 2002 article by Michael Rubin stated that in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, the United States sought rapprochement with the Afghan government—a prospect that the USSR found unacceptable due to the weakening Soviet leverage over the regime. Thus, the Soviets intervened to preserve their influence in the country.[40] According to Cyrus Vance's close aide Marshall Shulman "the State Department worked hard to dissuade the Soviets from invading."[41] In February 1979, U.S. Ambassador Adolph "Spike" Dubs was murdered in Kabul after Afghan security forces burst in on his kidnappers. The U.S. then reduced bilateral assistance and terminated a small military training program.

In December 1979 the USSR invaded Afghanistan and installed a new regime that would be loyal to Moscow. At the time some believed the Soviets were attempting to expand their borders southward in order to gain a foothold in the region. The Soviet Union had long lacked a warm water port, and their movement south seemed to position them for further expansion toward Pakistan in the East, and Iran to the West. American politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, feared the Soviets were positioning themselves for a takeover of Middle Eastern oil. Others believed that the Soviet Union was afraid Iran's Islamic Revolution and Afghanistan's Islamization would spread to the millions of Muslims in the USSR.

In an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, in March 1981, Jimmy Carter's Vice-President Walter Mondale declared: "I cannot understand -- it just baffles me -- why the Soviets these last few years have behaved as they have. Maybe we have made some mistakes with them. Why did they have to build up all these arms? Why did they have to go into Afghanistan? Why can't they relax just a little bit about Eastern Europe? Why do they try every door to see if it is locked?"[42] Likewise; Charlie Wilson said: "The U.S. had nothing whatsoever to do with these people's decision to fight ... but we'll be damned by history if we let them fight with stones."[43]

File:Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen.jpg

U.S. President Ronald Reagan listening to a delegation of Mujahideen at the White House in 1983.

After the invasion, Carter announced what became known as the Carter Doctrine: that the U.S. would not allow any other outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf. He terminated the Soviet Wheat Deal in January 1980, which was intended to establish trade with the USSR and lessen Cold War tensions. That same year, Carter also made two of the most unpopular decisions of his entire Presidency: prohibiting American athletes from participating in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, and reinstating registration for the draft for young males. Following the Soviet invasion, the United States supported diplomatic efforts to achieve a Soviet withdrawal. In addition, generous U.S. contributions to the refugee program in Pakistan played a major part in efforts to assist Afghan refugees.

National Security Advisor Brzezinski, known for his hardline policies on the Soviet Union, initiated in 1979 a campaign supporting mujaheddin in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which was run by Pakistani security services with financial support from the Central Intelligence Agency and Britain's MI6.[44] This policy had the explicit aim of promoting radical Islamist and anti-Communist forces. Months after the Saur Revolution brought a communist regime to power in Afghanistan, the US began offering limited humanitarian aid to Afghan dissidents through Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, although the Carter administration rejected Pakistani requests to provide arms.[45] Brzezinski seems to have been in favor of the provision of arms to the rebels, while Vance's State Department, seeking a peaceful settlement, publicly accused Brzezinski of seeking to "revive" the Cold War. Brzezinski has stated that the United States provided communications equipment and limited financial aid to the mujahideen prior to the "formal" invasion, but only in response to the Soviet deployment of forces to Afghanistan and the 1978 coup, and with the intention of preventing further Soviet encroachment in the region.[46]

Carter and Brzezinski started a $3–4 billion covert program of training insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a part of the efforts to foil the Soviets' apparent plans. Carter's diplomatic policies towards Pakistan in particular changed drastically. The administration had cut off financial aid to the country in early 1979 when religious fundamentalists, encouraged by the prevailing Islamist military dictatorship over Pakistan, burnt down a U.S. Embassy based there. The international stake in Pakistan, however, had greatly increased with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, was offered 400 million dollars to subsidize the anti-communist mujahideen in Afghanistan by Carter. General Zia declined the offer as insufficient, famously declaring it to be "peanuts," and the U.S. was forced to step up aid to Pakistan.

Reagan would later expand this program greatly to combat Cold War concerns presented by the Soviet Union at the time. Critics of this policy blame Carter and Reagan for the resulting instability of post-Soviet Afghan governments, which led to the rise of Islamic theocracy in the region.

Years later, in a 1997 CNN/National Security Archive interview, Brzezinski detailed the strategy taken by the Carter administration against the Soviets in 1979:

We immediately launched a twofold process when we heard that the Soviets had entered Afghanistan. The first involved direct reactions and sanctions focused on the Soviet Union, and both the State Department and the National Security Council prepared long lists of sanctions to be adopted, of steps to be taken to increase the international costs to the Soviet Union of their actions. And the second course of action led to my going to Pakistan a month or so after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for the purpose of coordinating with the Pakistanis a joint response, the purpose of which would be to make the Soviets bleed for as much and as long as is possible; and we engaged in that effort in a collaborative sense with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the British, the Chinese, and we started providing weapons to the Mujaheddin, from various sources again – for example, some Soviet arms from the Egyptians and the Chinese. We even got Soviet arms from the Czechoslovak communist government, since it was obviously susceptible to material incentives; and at some point we started buying arms for the Mujaheddin from the Soviet army in Afghanistan, because that army was increasingly corrupt.[47]

The Soviet invasion and occupation resulted in the deaths of as many as 2 million Afghans.[48] In 2010, Brzezinski defended the arming of the rebels in response, saying that it "was quite important in hastening the end of the conflict," thereby saving the lives of thousands of Afghans, but "not in deciding the conflict, because....even though we helped the mujaheddin, they would have continued fighting without our help, because they were also getting a lot of money from the Persian Gulf and the Arab states, and they weren't going to quit. They didn't decide to fight because we urged them to. They're fighters, and they prefer to be independent. They just happen to have a curious complex: they don't like foreigners with guns in their country. And they were going to fight the Soviets. Giving them weapons was a very important forward step in defeating the Soviets, and that's all to the good as far as I'm concerned." When he was asked if he thought it was the right decision in retrospect (given the Taliban's subsequent rise to power), he said: "Which decision? For the Soviets to go in? The decision was the Soviets', and they went in. The Afghans would have resisted anyway, and they were resisting. I just told you: in my view, the Afghans would have prevailed in the end anyway, 'cause they had access to money, they had access to weapons, and they had the will to fight."[49]

The supplying of billions of dollars in arms to the Afghan mujahideen militants was one of the CIA's longest and most expensive covert operations.[50] The CIA provided assistance to the fundamentalist insurgents through the Pakistani secret services, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in a program called Operation Cyclone. At least 3 billion in U.S. dollars were funneled into the country to train and equip troops with weapons, and there were similar programs run by Saudi Arabia, Britain's MI6 and SAS, Egypt, Iran, and the People's Republic of China.[51] Pakistan's secret service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was used as an intermediary for most of these activities to disguise the sources of support for the resistance.

No Americans trained or had direct contact with the mujahideen.[52] The skittish CIA had fewer than 10 operatives in the region.[53] Civilian personnel from the U.S. Department of State and the CIA frequently visited the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area during this time.

Under Reagan, U.S. support for the mujahideen evolved into an official U.S. foreign policy, known as the Reagan Doctrine, which included support for anti-Soviet movements in Afghanistan, Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.[54] Ronald Reagan praised the mujahideen as "freedom fighters". The U.S. policy of support for the mujahideen also drew support from The Heritage Foundation, which provided influential counsel to the Reagan administration on national security and foreign affairs matters. The Heritage Foundation's Michael Johns argued that U.S. support for the mujahideen would not only place the Soviets on the defensive in Afghanistan but would also dispel the global perception that other Soviet military conquests around the world were irreversible.[55]

The early foundations of al-Qaida were allegedly built in part on relationships and weaponry that came from the billions of dollars in U.S. support for the Afghan mujahadin during the war to expel Soviet forces from that country.[56] However, scholars such as Jason Burke, Steve Coll, Peter Bergen, Christopher Andrew, and Vasily Mitrokhin have argued that Bin Laden was "outside of CIA eyesight" and that there is "no support" in any "reliable source" for "the claim that the CIA funded bin Laden or any of the other Arab volunteers who came to support the mujahideen."[57][58][59][60]

The Chinese People's Liberation Army trained and supported the Afghan Mujahidin during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The training camps were moved from Pakistan into China itself. Anti-aircraft missiles, rocket launchers and machine guns, valued at hundreds of millions, were given to the Mujahidin by the Chinese. Chinese military advisors and army troops were present with the Mujahidin during training.[61]

In a 2007 movie based on George Crile's 2003 book Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History,[62] it is alleged that the KGB murdered the Afghan President, Mohammed Daoud Khan. But it wasn't until 2008 that Khan's body was even found.[63]

Hekmatyar[edit | edit source]

More than a half billion dollars of U.S. funding through Pakistan went to the Hizb party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, making Hekmatyar the recipient of the highest percentage of covert American funding through the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence.[64] Hekmatyar had "almost no grassroots support and no military base inside Afghanistan."[65] Hekmatyar also received the lion's share of aid from Saudi Arabia.[66] The CIA allegedly also gave Hekmatyar immunity for his illegal drug trade activities.[67]

The main base station of mujahideen in Pakistan was the town Badaber, 24 km from Peshawar. The base served as a concentration camp for Soviet and DRA P.O.W.s as well. In 1985, a prisoner rebellion destroyed the base, but the incident was concealed by the Pakistani and Soviet governments until the dissolution of the USSR.

Mujahideen forces caused serious casualties to the Soviet forces, and made the war very costly for the Soviet Union. Thus in 1989, the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan. Many districts and cities then fell to the mujahideen; in 1992 the DRA's last president, Mohammad Najibullah, was overthrown.

However, the mujahideen did not establish a united government, and many of the larger mujahideen groups began to fight each other over power in Kabul. After several years of devastating fighting, a village mullah named Mohammed Omar organized a new armed movement with the backing of Pakistan. This movement became known as the Taliban ("students" in Arabic), referring to the Saudi-backed religious schools known for producing extremism. Veteran mujahideen were confronted by this radical splinter group in 1996.

Favorable portrayal in Western films[edit | edit source]

The mujahideen militants were also portrayed favorably in several mainstream American and Western films:

Post-Soviet international fighters[edit | edit source]

By 1996, with backing from the Pakistani ISI, Pakistani Armed Forces, and al-Qaeda, the Taliban had largely defeated the militias and controlled most of the country. The opposition factions allied themselves together again and became known as the Northern Alliance. In 2001, with U.S.-NATO intervention, the Taliban were ousted from power and a new Afghan government was formed. Many of the former mujahideen gradually were incorporated into the new Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

At present the term "mujahideen" is sometimes used to describe insurgents groups (including Taliban and al-Qaeda) who are fighting NATO troops and the Military of Afghanistan and Pakistan.[citation needed]

Afghan mujahideen also participated in the 1992 Civil war in Tajikistan.

Arakan uprising (Burma)[edit | edit source]

A sizable number of mujahideen are present and concentrated in the province of Arakan, Burma.[68] There were a lot of Muslim Rebels in Rakhine State of Burma in 1949 a year after getting Independence. Mir Cassim was the leader of the group known as "Mujahids". Most of them were immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. This particular movement was crushed by the Burmese Army in 1950's. Mir Cassim himself was assassinated in Cox's Bazar. This movement under Cassim collapsed after his death and his followers surrendered. When asked about their race, they called themselves as "Rohingyas".[69] They were much more active before the 1962 coup d'etat by General Ne Win. Ne Win carried out some military operations targeting them over a period of two decades. The prominent one was "Operation King Dragon" which took place in 1978; as a result, many Muslims in the region fled to neighboring country Bangladesh as refugees. Nevertheless, the Burmese mujahideen are still active within the remote areas of Arakan.[70] Their associations with Bangladeshi mujahideen were significant but they have extended their networks to the international level and countries such as Pakistan, Malaysia, et al., during the recent years.[citation needed] They collect donations, and receive religious military training outside of Burma.[71]

Bosnian war[edit | edit source]

Main article: Bosnian mujahideen

During the Bosnian war 1992-1995, some foreign Muslims came to Bosnia as mujahideen. The war had been depicted in the international press as an attack on Muslims. Serb forces attacked Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) communities indiscriminately, and committed substantial atrocities against the Bosniak population (see Bosnian Genocide, Srebrenica Massacre, Serbian War Crimes in the Yugoslav Wars). This moved Muslims who shared mujahideen beliefs to come to the aid of oppressed fellow Muslims, and also presented an opportunity to strike at "infidels". The number of foreign Muslim volunteers in Bosnia was estimated at about 4,000 in contemporary newspaper reports.[72] Later research estimated about 400 foreign volunteers.[73] They came from places such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories; to quote the summary of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia judgment:[74]

The evidence shows that foreign volunteers arrived in central Bosnia in the second half of 1992 with the aim of helping Muslims against the Serbian aggressors. Mostly they came from North Africa, the Near East and the Middle East. The foreign volunteers differed considerably from the local population, not only because of their physical appearance and the language they spoke, but also because of their fighting methods. The various foreign, Muslim volunteers were primarily organized into an umbrella detachment of the 7th Muslim Brigade, which was a brigade of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, based in Zenica. This independent subdivision colloquially known as El-Mudžahid, was composed exclusively of foreign nationals and not Bosnians (whereas the 7th Muslim Brigade was entirely made up of native Bosniaks) and consisted of somewhere between 300 to 1,500 volunteers. Enver Hadžihasanović, Lieutenant Colonel of the Bosnian Army's 3rd Corps, appointed Mahmut Karalić (Commandant), Asim Koričić (Chief of Staff) and Amir Kubura (Assistant Chief for Operational and Curricula) to lead the group.

Some of the mujahideen funnelled arms and money into the country which Bosnia was in dire need of due to a United Nations-sanctioned arms embargo restricting the importation of weapons into all of the republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, many of the mujahideen were extremely devout Muslims of the strict Salafi sect, which contrasted sharply with the widely renowned secular society and liberal attitudes Bosnian Muslims harbored. This led to friction between the mujahideen and the Bosniaks. Furthermore, some mujahideen wanted to fight a war of extermination, or use Bosniak territory as a base for terrorist operations elsewhere.[citation needed] This was contrary to the war goals of the Bosnian government, who was primarily oriented towards fighting for national independence.

Foreign volunteers in Bosnia have been variously accused of committing war crimes during the conflict. However, the ICTY has not ever issued indictments against mujahideen fighters. Instead, the ICTY indicted some Bosnian Army commanders on the basis of superior criminal responsibility. The ICTY acquitted Amir Kubura and Enver Hadžihasanović of the Bosnian 3rd Corps of all charges related to the incidents involving mujahideen. Furthermore, the Appeals Chamber noted that the relationship between the 3rd Corps and the El Mujahedin detachment was not one of subordination but was instead close to overt hostility since the only way to control the detachment was to attack them as if they were a distinct enemy force.[75]

The ICTY Trial Chamber convicted Rasim Delic, the former chief of the Bosnian Army General Staff. The ICTY found that Delic had effective control over the El Mujahid Detachment. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment for failure to prevent or punish the cruel treatment of twelve captured Serb soldiers by the Mujahideen. Delic remained in the Detention Unit while appellate proceedings continued.[76]

Some individual members of the Bosnian Mujahideen, gained particular prominence within Bosnia as well as international attention from various foreign governments, such as Abdelkader Mokhtari, Fateh Kamel, and Karim Said Atmani, all of whom were North African volunteers with well established links to Islamic Fundamentalist groups before and after the Bosnian War.

India and Pakistan[edit | edit source]

An outfit calling itself the Indian Mujahideen came to light in 2008 with multiple large scale terror attacks. On November 26, 2008, a group calling itself the Deccan Mujahideen claimed responsibility for a string of attacks across Mumbai. The Weekly Standard claimed, "Indian intelligence believes the Indian Mujahideen is a front group created by Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami to confuse investigators and cover the tracks of the Students Islamic Movement of India, or SIMI, a radical Islamist movement with aim to establish Islamic rule over India.[77] In the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiri Muslim separatists opposing Indian rule are often known as mujahideen.

Several different militant groups have since taken root in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Most noticeable of these groups are Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Hizbul Mujahideen and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM).[78] A 1996 report by Human Rights Watch estimated the number of active mujahideen at 3,200.[79]

The Pakistan Army National Guard known as "Mujahid Force". Unlike the above examples, these are people who are enlisted or commissioned in the army of a nation state and they are thus regular soldiers, and associated with the mujahideen.[80]

The members of the Salafi movement (within Sunni Islam) in the south Indian state of Kerala is known as "Mujahids".

Iran[edit | edit source]

While more than one group in Iran have called themselves mujahideen, the most famous is the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), currently an Iraq-based Islamic Socialist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of Iran's current government. The group also took part in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Iraq-Iran War (on the side of Iraqis), and the Iraqi internal conflicts. They were recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States CIA[citation needed] as well as the Iranian government; however, recent investigations by Intelligence Subcommittee, headed by Congressman Rogers [R-MI] have determined there is no factual basis for the terror-group designation.[citation needed] This position is also supported by Senator Stabenow [D-MI].[citation needed] Said position is supported by the NSA and CIA as well.[citation needed] The heads of many foreign State security organizations also concur, as does the United Nations.[citation needed] Currently, inside Iran, Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization is a reformist Iranian political organization. It is a small yet very influential[citation needed] organization within the Iranian reform movement.

Another mujahideen was the Mujahedin-e Islam, an Islamic party led by Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani.[81] It was a component of the National Front (Iran) during the time of Mohammed Mosaddeq's oil nationalization, but broke away from Mosaddeq over his allegedly unIslamic policies.[82]

Iraq[edit | edit source]

Main article: Iraqi insurgency

The term mujahideen is sometimes applied to fighters who joined the insurgency after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Some groups also use the word mujahideen in their names, like Mujahideen Shura Council (an umbrella group run by al-Qaeda in Iraq)[citation needed] and Mujahideen Army.

North Caucasus[edit | edit source]

Main article: Insurgency in the North Caucasus

The term mujahideen has often been used to refer to all separatist fighters in the case of the First and Second Chechen Wars. However, in this article, mujahideen is used to refer to the foreign, non-Caucasian fighters who joined the separatists’ cause for the sake of Jihad. They are often called Ansaar (helpers) in related literature dealing with this conflict to prevent confusion with the native fighters.

Foreign mujahideen have played a part in both Chechen wars. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent Chechen declaration of independence, foreign fighters began entering the region and associating themselves with local rebels (most notably Shamil Basayev). Many of the foreign fighters were veterans of the Soviet-Afghan war. The mujahideen also made a significant financial contribution to the separatists’ cause; with their access to the immense wealth of Salafist charities like al-Haramein, they soon became an invaluable source of funds for the Chechen resistance, which had few resources of its own.

Most of the mujahideen decided to remain in Chechnya after the withdrawal of Russian forces. In 1999, foreign fighters played an important role in the ill-fated Chechen incursion into Dagestan, where they suffered a decisive defeat and were forced to retreat back into Chechnya. The incursion provided the new Russian government with a pretext for intervention. Russian ground forces invaded Chechnya again in December 1999.

The mujahideen were deemed responsible for the decapitation of six young Russian conscripts caught in Dagestan during a rebel incursion. The beheading was depicted in a video that was posted online. The six Russian conscripts were caught behind enemy lines after the small and unprepared Russian unit retreated during a rebel advance onto Dagestan. The mujahideen were then killed by Russian special forces during a gunfight a short time later.

The separatists were less successful in the Second Chechen War. The Chechens were unable to hold their ground against better prepared and more determined Russian forces. Russian officials claimed that the separatists had been defeated as early as 2002. The Russians also succeeded in killing the most prominent mujahideen commanders, most notably Ibn al-Khattab and Abu al-Walid.

Although the region has since been far from stable, separatist activity has decreased, though some foreign fighters remain active in Chechnya. In the last months of 2007, the influence of foreign fighters became apparent again when Dokka Umarov proclaimed the Caucasus Emirate being fought for by the Caucasian Mujahadeen, a pan-Caucasian Islamic state of which Chechnya was to be a province. This move caused a rift in the resistance movement between those supporting the Emirate and those who were in favour of preserving the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

Kosovo war[edit | edit source]

According to the Serbian and other European press[which?] several hundred to a few thousand Mujahideen fighters from the Middle East and other parts of the world later joined the Kosovo Liberation Army to fight against Serbian forces in the Kosovo war 1997–1999.[citation needed] Allegedly some of them formed their own units with Albanian leaders who spoke Arabic fluently.[citation needed] The greatest involvement was in the conflicts along the border with Albania as well as in the Battle of Košare.[citation needed] After the war most of the foreign volunteers went back to their home lands, while some of them remained in Kosovo where they became citizens.[83][84][85][86][87]

The Kosovo Liberation Army included in its ranks foreign volunteers from Belgium, the UK, Germany, the US and France.[88][89]

Philippines[edit | edit source]

Main article: Insurgency in the Philippines

Between the acquisition of the Philippines after the Spanish American War and a treaty with Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram II the Sultan of Sulu in 1915, the United States and the government of the Philippines were involved in a period known as the Moro Rebellion. During this period, religious rebels supported by the Sultan fought for removal of the Christian-dominated Philippine government from the Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao and for the independence of the Sultanate of Sulu. During this period there were volunteers who were willing to commit themselves to hand-to-hand combat and probable death. In Spanish, these religious rebels were known as juramentados, or oath-takers, and have been compared with Mujahideen.

Abu Sayyaf is an Islamic separatist group in the southern Philippines. The group is known for its kidnappings of Western nationals and Filipinos, for which it has received several large ransom payments. Some Abu Sayyaf members have studied or worked in Saudi Arabia and developed relations with the mujahideen members while fighting and training in the war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.[90] The members of Abu Sayyaf proclaimed themselves as mujahideen but are not supported by many people in the Philippines including its Muslim clerics. Abu Sayyaf is thought to have around 400 members.

Somali civil war[edit | edit source]

Main article: Somali civil war

In July 2006, a Web-posted message purportedly written by Osama bin Laden urged Somalis to build an Islamic state in the country and warned western states that his al-Qaeda network would fight against them if they intervened there.[91] Foreign fighters began to arrive, though there were official denials of the presence of mujahideen in the country. Even so, the threat of jihad was made openly and repeatedly in the months preceding the Battle of Baidoa.[92] On December 23, 2006, Islamists, for the first time, called upon international fighters to join their cause.[93] The term mujahideen is now openly used by the post-ICU resistance against the Ethiopians and the TFG.

Al-Shabaab[edit | edit source]

Main article: Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen

Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen is said to have non-Somali foreigners in its ranks, particularly among its leadership.[94] Fighters from the Persian Gulf and international jihadists were called to join the holy war against the Somali government and its Ethiopian allies. Though Somali Islamists did not use suicide bombing tactics before, the foreign elements of al-Shabaab are blamed for several suicide bombings.[95][96] A 2006 UN report stated that Iran, Libya, Egypt and other countries in the Persian Gulf region were the main backers of the Islamist extremists. Egypt has a longstanding policy of securing the Nile River flow by destabilizing Ethiopia.[97][98] Similarly, recent media reports said that Egyptian and Arab jihadists were the core members of Al-Shabaab, and were training Somalis in sophisticated weaponry and suicide bombing techniques.[99] In early 2012, hundreds of fighters from the Middle-East and Pakistan left Somalia, apparently to help defend Al-Qaeda territory in Yemen, where a new president is likely to use his popular mandate and American support to mount an offensive against Al-Qaeda.

Syrian Civil War[edit | edit source]

Various Islamic groups, affiliated with the Mujahedeen and the world Jihadists, were attributed participation in the Syrian Civil War. The Syrian opposition has always refused to work with them. The motivation for the infiltration of hundreds of Mujahedeen into Syria since late 2011 is considered the Alawite-dominated Syrian government killing of the Sunni majority that was attempting a revolution. Alawis are considered heretic by radical Sunni Muslim circles. In this sense, Al-Qaeda and affiliates have generally been anti-Assad.

American officials believe that Al-Qaeda in Iraq has conducted bomb attacks against Syrian government forces,[100] and al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri condemned Assad.[101] Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that al-Qaeda in Iraq members have gone to Syria, where the militants previously received support and weapons from the Syrian government in order to destabilize the US occupation of Iraq.[102] On 23 April, one of the leaders of Fatah al-Islam, Abdel Ghani Jawhar, was killed during the Battle of Al-Qusayr, after he blew himself up while making a bomb.[103] A member of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon admitted that his group had sent fighters to Syria, while a group thought linked to al-Qaeda and calling itself the al-Nusra Front claimed for a suicide bomb attack on 6 January 2012 in the central Damascus neighbourhood of al-Midan killed 26 people, most of whom were civilians,[104] as well as for truck bombs that killed 55 people and injured 370. Jihadist leaders and intelligence sources said foreign fighters had begun to enter Syria only in February 2012.[105] In May 2012, Syria's U.N. envoy Bashar Ja'afari declared that dozens of foreign fighters from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Britain, France elsewhere had been captured or killed, and urged Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to stop "their sponsorship of the armed rebellion".[106][107] Jihadist leaders and intelligence sources said foreign fighters had begun to enter Syria only in February 2012.[105] In June, it was reported that hundreds of foreign fighters, many linked to al-Qaeda, had gone to Syria to fight against Assad.[108] In July, Iraq's foreign minister again warned that members of al-Qaeda in Iraq were seeking refuge in Syria and moving there to fight.[109] When asked if the United States would arm the opposition, Hillary Clinton expressed fears that such weapons could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda or Hamas.[110]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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  2. Also spelt mujahedin in a minority of articles.
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