Maktab al-Khadamat

From Academic Kids

The Maktab al-Khadamāt, also Maktab Khadamāt al-Mujāhidīn al-Arab (Arabic: مكتب الخدمات or مكتب خدمات المجاهدين العرب, MAK), also known as the Afghan Services Bureau, is reliably believed to have been founded in 1984 by Dr. Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden to raise funds and recruit foreign mujahidin for the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. MAK became the forerunner to Al Qaeda and was instrumental in creating the fundraising and recruitment network that benefited Al Qaeda during the 1990s.

During the Soviet-Afghanistan war, MAK played a critical role, training over 10,000 mujahidin for the war and dispersing approximately $2 billion in donations sourced via a network of global offices in Western countries, including approximately thirty in the United States. MAK maintained a close liaison with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency via which the CIA also funneled money into the mujahidin campaign.

As the war ended, a difference in opinion emerged between Azzam and Bin Laden over the future direction of MAK. Azzam wanted to use the wealth it had generated, and the network it created to help install a pure Islamic government in post-war Afghanistan. Bin Laden, who was heavily influenced by Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood wanted to use MAK’s assets to fund a global jihad. The conflict culminated in 1989 when Azzam was killed by a car bomb. Following his death, Bin Laden assumed control of MAK and the organization became absorbed into Al Qaeda.

MAK Connections in the United States

MAK established recruitment and fundraising offices in many Western countries. The first offices in the United States were established within the Alkifah Refugee Centre in Brooklyn, and at the Islamic Centre in Tucson, Arizona. The Alkifah Centre was originally operated by Mustafa Shalabi, a close associate of MAK’s co-founder Abdullah Azzam. In February 1991, Shalabi was found murdered inside his New York apartment.

It is believed that like Azzam, Shalabi had become embroiled in a power struggle with supporters of Bin Laden, namely Omar Abdel-Rahman (the Blind Shiekh) and his followers from the Al Farooq Mosque. In 1995 Abdel-Rahman was convicted for his part in a plot, known as the ‘Day of Terror Plot’, to bomb various New York City landmarks. It is also alleged that Rahman had intimate knowledge of the original World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

While the subsequent investigations by the FBI into the Al-Farooq Mosque and Alkifah Refugee Centre effectively dismantled the New York office of MAK, many centers in the United States continued to operate, raising funds for Al Qaeda and in some cases harbouring the terrorists that struck on 9/11.


  • Gunaratna, Rohan. 2002. “Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror”. Scribe, Melbourne.
  • Lance, Peter. 2003. “1000 Years For Revenge: International Terrorism and the FBI”. Regan Books, New al-Chadamāt

fr:Maktab al-Khadamāt


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