I have been reading the abridged version of Abū Muṣ’ab al-Sūrī’s book The Global Islamic Resistance Call (Da’wat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmīyyah al-’Alāmīyyah) edited by Jim Lacey and came across an interesting passage when discussing the history of the Tunisian jihadist movement:
They did not have much interest in the battle of the Taliban and the Muslim principality, and they were hesitant to get involved with the Taliban government or to consider it a religious legal leader in Afghanistan … They were also not convinced of the attempts bin Laden and al Qaida were making, nor of the latter’s military unidirectional penchant. Indeed, this was the case with the majority of the organizations and the Arab groups in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, despite all of these facts, when the American attacks occurred, every one of them got involved in that battle.
This reminded me of a recent tweet from Leah Farrall:
I wonder when, if ever, we’ll start talking about how we made AQ’s day, with Afghanistan, then Iraq.
I’m not sure whether Farrall is referencing al-Sūrī’s observation that the American invasion brought together a bunch of disparate nationalist-jihadist movements into al-Qā’idah’s global jihadist mold or that it led the United States into an economically bloodletting war. Either way, it raises an interesting question that has not been discussed much: what role the invasion of Afghanistan had on bringing many of the nationalist-jihadist groups — that were solely training in Afghanistan during the Ṭālibān’s rule to overthrow their own local regimes — over to al-Qā’idah’s side.
Addendum: It should be noted that I am not necessarily saying that we should not have invaded Afghanistan, rather it is just something to think about.