By Rodney P. Carlisle

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In the history of these organizations, Islamic Jihad can be viewed as a radical spin-off of the Muslim Brotherhood. Osama bin Laden came from a large and wealthy family that was established by his father, a poor laborer who emigrated from Yemen to Saudi Arabia in about 1930. There, he moved up through the construction business until he had his own firm during an era when the Saudis were reaping large profits from the country’s many oil wells. Bin Laden’s father prospered by building roads, office buildings, government projects, mosques, and other projects, and eventually became the favored contractor and trusted ally of the royal family.

Against the mujahideen and the Soviet army would have the job of protecting the main routes into the country from potential invaders. However, the Afghan army could not handle the mujahideen, and the Soviets had to face that job. The mujahideen were local groups with local leaders, armed with outmoded weapons. Although loosely organized into seven groups supported from Pakistan and four much weaker groups supported from Iran, the mujahideen was made up of hundreds of small bands, each operating quite independently.

It has been difficult and sometimes impossible to govern. Many of its people are very conservative in their social and religious views. They have long resisted attempts by central governments to bring reform or progress. The languages spoken there are not widely studied in Europe, the United States, or Russia. All of these facts have made it difficult for outsiders to understand how to deal with Afghanistan. In the period of 1979 to 1989, the Soviet Union attempted to control Afghanistan and demonstrated how hard it was to understand and bring peace to the country.

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