Thomas Hegghammer Addresses the Rise in Global Jihad

A composite image features two men in virtual conversation.

On Monday, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum continued its digital public program series When the World Changes with Thomas Hegghammer, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment and author of The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad.

In conversation with Clifford Chanin, executive vice president and deputy director for museum programs, Hegghammer discussed his research and insights from his book, a biography of the influential ideologue who played a crucial role in the international spread of the jihadi movement.

In the clip below, Hegghammer discusses how Abdullah Azzam contributed to the structural erosion of authority within the jihadi movement at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Video clip from "The Rise of Global Jihad"

2021_0208 The Rise of Global Jihad_Highlight_(Caps)

Once you've told someone not to listen to authority at some point they're going to stop listening to you as well. They're going to become uncontrollable because it's been imprinted in them that, you know, all kinds of traditional forms of authority are just corrupt and not worth listening to. And I think it's no coincidence that it's after Azzam introduced this argument that the jihadi movement is, kind of, devolved into, kind of, ever more brutality, ever more factionalization and so on. It's because it's leaderless, they cannot agree on anything and they've stopped, long since stopped, listening to mainstream Islamic clerics. And so this is a story of a collapse in authority and Azzam, you know, played an important role in it.

For more public programs like these, please visit our past program archive or check 911memorial.org/programs to learn of forthcoming programs.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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