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Ustad Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf was born in 1946 in the Paghman Valley, Afghanistan. Sayyaf is an ethnic Pashtun. He holds a degree in religion and a masters from the illustrious Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.
Sayyaf is reported to be approximately six foot, three inches in height and weigh 250 pounds.
Sayyaf was a member of the Afghan-based Ikhwan al-Muslimin, founded in 1969 by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Dr. Burhanuddin Rabbani and having strong links to the original and much larger Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Ustad (Professor) Abdul was a professor at a small Islamic university called The Shariat in Kabul until 1973, when he plotted with Burhanuddin Rabbani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar to overthrow President Daoud Khan. The coup failed and he was forced to flee to Pakistan.
Sayyaf fought against Soviet occupying forces in Afghanistan during the 1980s, and was generously financed, and apparently favoured, by Saudi Arabia. During the jihad against the Soviet Union and its Afghan allies, he formed a close relationship with Osama bin Laden. Together in the Jalalabad area they established a training camp network, later used by Al-Qaeda 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. In 1985, he founded a university in an Afghan refugee camp near Peshawar called Dawa'a al-Jihad, (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.
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, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the Southern Philippines, where his name inspired the Abu Sayyaf group. Also, in these camps, Sayyaf trained and mentored the soon-to-be-infamous, Kuwaiti-born, future Al-Qaeda operative and senior commander, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, after being introduced by the latter's brother, Zahid, during the Afghan Jihad in 1987.
After the forced withdrawal of the demoralised Soviet forces in 1989, and the overthrow of the Mohammad Najibullah regime in 1992, Sayyaf's organisation became involved in the infamous massacres and rampages in the Hazara Kabul neighbourhood of Afshar. 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 neighbourhood of Kābul, slaughtering and raping inhabitants and burning homes.
Around 1996 Sayyaf supposedly joined the Northern Alliance, 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.
In 2003, Sayyaf was elected as one of the 502 representatives at the Constitutional Loya Jirga in Kabul, chairing one of the working groups. Abdul Sayyaf's influence in the convention was felt further when his ally Fazal Hadi Shinwari was appointed by Hamid Karzai 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. As of 2007, Sayyaf is an influential member of parliament and has called for an amnesty for former mujahideen, as well as pushing for a bill that would prevent the Mujaheddin from being charged with war crimes.
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."
Sayyaf is mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report.
On Bin LadenEdit
"At that time I did not see anything particular about him. He was not outstanding in any way, just one person among many. He added: "I found that he was a simple man. I don't know how the media have made such a thing out of him."