THE CARAVAN is a biography of Abdallah Azzam (1941-1989), one of the most influential jihadi ideologues of all time. Azzam was a Palestinian cleric who led the mobilization of Arab fighters to the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, becoming the mentor of Osama bin Laden and laying the groundwork for the rise of the global jihadi movement.

The book explains how Azzam came to play this role, how he was able to mobilize the Afghan Arabs, and why he remains influential today. It traces Azzam’s life from his upbringing on the West Bank, via his sojourns in Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, on to the battlefields of Afghanistan.

It is an extraordinary tale of a farmer’s son who came to know all the leading Islamists of his time and frequented princes, CIA agents, and Cat Stevens the pop star. It takes us to unexpected places such as California, Southern Italy, and Venezuela, and it bring us to underground apartments, lavish palaces, and dark mountain caves. It ends with a bomb assassination that remains the greatest murder mystery in the history of jihadism.

Written by Thomas Hegghammer, a leading historian of jihadism, The Caravan is based on over a decade of research and draws on a wealth of new primary sources as well as fieldwork on four continents.


Reads like a Graham Greene thriller– only it’s true” – James Gelvin, UCLA

Exceptional book” – Charles Tripp, SOAS


THE CARAVAN will be published by Cambridge University Press on 5 March 2020 (UK and USA). It can be preordered here.