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University of Dawa al-Jihad

A college outside of Peshawar, Pakistan, where such al Qaeda luminaries as Ramzi Yousef received extensive training in bomb-making and other terror tactics which made up the bulk of the curriculum.

The "dean" of Dawa al-Jihad was Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a mujahideen fighter who took on the Soviets alongside Osama bin Laden. Sayyaf is now, inexplicably, part of the Afghanistan coalition government installed by the U.S.

Or perhaps it's not so much inexplicable as appalling, infuriating and inexcusable. Dawa al-Jihad was funded by the government of Saudi Arabia. It may have received an additional endowment from the Central Intelligence Agency.

In addition to training the two masterminds of the September 11 attacks in the Art of Terrorism, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is believed to have trained there and to have met one of his wives on campus. (There is some small ambiguity about whether that's the same Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who masterminded 9/11 or another terrorist operator using the same name, but odds are that the famous KSM spent some time at the school.)

The University taught its participants very specifc skills, including firearms and small arms use, hijacking, sabotage, commando and guerilla tactics, and bomb-making. In the latter category, the school boasted one of the all-time greats in the field as a visiting professor -- Yousef himself, who made frequent trips to the University until his arrest in February 1995.

University alumni included Ahmad Ajaj, a co-conspirator of Yousef's, and Islamic militants based in the United States, possibly including Wadih El-Hage, an American citizen who would later become the first person explicitly convicted of aiding and abetting Osama bin Laden in the U.S. Ajaj studied under Yousef, on a traveling "scholarship" from Saudi Arabia, according to terrorism expert Simon Reeve, writing in "The New Jackals."

Sayyaf, leader of a faction called the Islamic Alliance, appears to have left the school sometime before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. He joined forces with the Northern Alliance, and after the ejection of the Taliban, he took his place as a member of the new government. In a bad case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss," he has used that position to campaign to restore the rule of Islamic sha'ria law in Afghanistan, which would be, for all intents and purposes, the restoration of the Taliban under a different name.

One of Sayyaf's lieutenants, Haji Dost, took over the University, which by now was a little too well-known for its own good. (For instance, the CIA used the known connection to kidnap two of Khalid Shaikh's sons in early 2003.) Dost apparently shut down the school in response to Pakistani government pressure and may have taken up a new career as a drug lord in southern Afghanistan.

Also commonly referred to as the "University of Jihad," Darul Uloom Haqqania is a nearby madrassa (an Islamic religious school), a separate but related venture near Peshawar. Darul Uloom's major claim to fame is being the birthplace of the Taliban, which began as a student movement on the campus.

When news of the September 11 attacks broke, Darul Uloom students reportedly celebrated in the school's halls, according to the New York Times. On September 12, the school's elders reportedly explained to the students that Jews had executed the attack in an effort to make Muslims look bad.

Unlike the University of Da'wa al-Jihad, the Pakistani government has not seen fit to take action against Darul Uloom, which is located in a tribal region along the Afghan border that has long been considered ungovernable.

According to the BBC, Darul Uloom graduated a class of 2,000 students in 2003, and sent them across the border to fight on behalf of the not-quite-dead-yet Taliban.

Unlike the University of Da'wa al-Jihad, Darul Uloom maintains a curriculum oriented toward the theological side of extremism, rather than practical matters like "which fertilizer has the most explosive force when mixed with diesel fuel."

A local Islamic leader connected to the university explained the difference to an Asian news service in 2001. According to Maulana Haq:

"We only impart religious education here. The students later take up guns on their own."

They do seem to find those guns just fine, however, even assuming they really don't have an outplacement program. Darul Uloom's most famous alumnus is Mullah Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Taliban, who is still at large.


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