Podcast 33 – Who was Abdallah Azzam? A discussion with Norwegian scholar Thomas Hegghammer

Who was Abdallah Azzam and what was his role in modern Islamist terrorism? Listen to my chat with Norwegian scholar Thomas Hegghammer on his new book on the jihadi ideologue.

Thomas Hegghammer 

Thomas is a Norwegian academic who writes about terrorism and jihadism. He work as senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and adjunct professor of political science at the University of Oslo. His latest book The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad was published earlier this month.

The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad

Abdallah Azzam, the Palestinian cleric who led the mobilization of Arab fighters to Afghanistan in the 1980s, played a crucial role in the internationalization of the jihadi movement. Killed in mysterious circumstances in 1989 in Peshawar, Pakistan, he remains one of the most influential jihadi ideologues of all time.

Here, in the first in-depth biography of Azzam, Thomas Hegghammer explains how Azzam came to play this role and why jihadism went global at this particular time. It traces Azzam’s extraordinary life journey from a West Bank village to the battlefields of Afghanistan, telling the story of a man who knew all the leading Islamists of his time and frequented presidents, CIA agents, and Cat Stevens the pop star.

It is, however, also a story of displacement, exclusion, and repression that suggests that jihadism went global for fundamentally local reasons.

Phil Gurski

2 thoughts on “Podcast 33 – Who was Abdallah Azzam? A discussion with Norwegian scholar Thomas Hegghammer

  1. Really excellent discussion – thoughtful and clear on the part of Phil and his guess, Thomas Hegghammer. Hegghammer’s has published work that is seminal in the study of jihadism, and listening to him in this podcast you can get a good sense why. Informed and engaged, yet always circumspect and precise in his comments.

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