Services Office

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Founded in Pakistan in 1984 by Abdullah Azzam, the Services Office (Maktab al-Khadamat) both supported refugees from the Afghanistan War (1978-92) and channeled weapons and "Afghan Arab" volunteers against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It was also an increasingly radical Islamist organization.

It had an overt U.S. operations side called al-Khifa. As part of Operation CYCLONE, a Central Intelligence Agency effort against the Soviets, it received U.S. assistance; there is much controversy if this short-term objective created "blowback" of terrorism in the 1990s.

While Azzam was assassinated in 1989, Osama bin Laden worked with the organization, and it is an indirect ancestor of al-Qaeda. This can be confusing, because it might have involved bin Laden's participation, but not yet necessarily al-Qaeda. One especially blurry incident is support of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which definitely could be tied to the Services Office, and for which bin Laden was later indicted, but the connection to bin Laden and al-Qaeda is less clear. These are not organizations or executives following the best practices of graduate schools of business administration, but often simply personal relationships.