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al-Khifa, or the al-Khifa Refugee Center, was the U.S. branch of the Services Office run by Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden. It is sometimes spelled al-Khifah. The first branch was created in Tucson, Arizona, where there was a bin Laden associated sleeper cell, but the most important was to be in Brooklyn, New York. [1]

According to the 9-11 Commission, "al-Kifah recruited American Muslims to fight in Afghanistan; some of them would participate in terrorist actions in the United States in the early 1990s and in al-Qaeda operations elsewhere, including the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa." They cited a flyer that read: "al-Kifah Refugee Center is an organization founded by Sheikh Abdullah Azzam to serve the cause of jihad."

al-Khifa published a bimonthly newspaper, The Sword (al-Hussam),which had an Arabic subtitle "Maktab al-Khidmat," or MAK, [2] the Arabic name for the Services Office

Personnel and external operations

One of the early staff of al-Khifa was Ali Mohamed, as well as the "blind sheikh", Omar Abdel-Rahman. Khaled Abu el-Dahab, the assistant to Ali Mohamed, a U.S. double agent, founded the Brooklyn center. In December 29, 1987, it was incorporated by Mustafa Shalabi, Fawaz Damra, and Ali Shinawy. Damra led the Al Farouq mosque, which is led by Damra, but the center would soon move to its own offices next to it.[1]

Shalabi, a naturalized citizen from Egypt, was in charge of the office, and had two assistants: Mahmud Abouhalima, later convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and El Sayyid Nosair, sentenced for shooting two people during the assassination attempt on Meir Kahane. Jamal al-Fadl, a founding member of al-Qaeda who left and became an FBI informant, also worked there.

Ayman al-Zawahiri visited in 1988 and 1989, both at the center and at Rahman's mosque in Jersey City, where he said

Blood and martyrdom are the only way to create a Muslim society… However, humanity won’t allow us to achieve this objective, because all humanity is the enemy of every Muslim.[1]

Rahman moved to the Brooklyn center in 1990, and disputes broke out over funding, according to Abouhalima. Approximately then, he met Wadi el Hage, a Lebanese-born naturalized American citizen, at an Islamic conference in Oklahoma City. Shortly afterwards, el Hage came to Brooklyn; Shalabi was found dead in his apartment, a death that has never been explained.[3] El Hage, who had been bin Laden's secretary, was later convicted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Africa.


Following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Care International charity, took over the operations of al-Khifa. not to be confused with the non-governmental organization CARE International and CARE USA organization, which were founded in 1945.[4] In 2008, Emadeddin Muntasser, Samir Almonla, and Muhammad Mubayid were convicted of conspiring to defraud and conceal information from the U.S. government.[2] Specifically, they had created a charity called Care International -- "to solicit and obtain tax deductible donations for the purpose of supporting and promoting the mujahedin(Muslim holy warriors) and jihad (violent armed conflict)." The concealment was that the charity, like al-Kifa, was involved non-charitable activities such as the solicitation and expenditure of funds to support violent jihad.

In April 13, 1993, Muntasser incorporated the new organization as Care International, Inc. Care took over publishing al-Hussam in June 1993, with a nearly identical header that read "al-Hussam; Newsletter published by Maktab al-Kidmat, Boston USA; Care International." Care filed its articles of incorporation using the same Boston address used by al-Kifah in earlier editions of al-Hussam.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "1986-1993: CIA and Bin Laden Both Closely Tied to Recruiting and Fund-raising Office for Afghanistan", History Commons
  2. 2.0 2.1 Matthew Levitt (January 14, 2008), PolicyWatch #1326: Prosecuting Terrorism beyond 'Material Support', Washington Institute for Near East Studies
  3. Benjamin Weiser, Susan Sachs and David Kocieniewski (October 22, 1998), "U.S. Sees Brooklyn Link to World Terror Network", New York Times
  4. History, CARE