To the Mountains

My Life in Jihad, from Algeria to Afghanistan

January 2019 9781787380110 376pp
March 2023 9781787389663 376pp
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


As one of the earliest Arabs to join the Afghan Jihad, the Algerian Islamist Abdullah Anas counted as brothers-in-arms the future icons of al-Qaeda’s global war, from Abdullah Azzam to Osama bin Laden, and befriended key Afghan resistance leaders such as Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Brushing shoulders with everyone from Zarqawi to Haqqani, Anas distanced himself from their movements, disagreeing with their narrow interpretations of political Islam. While he remains committed to Jihad, to this day Anas takes issue with the extremist trajectories of his one-time companions.

Co-written with investigative journalist Tam Hussein, To the Mountains is an intimate and penetrating portrait of the networks that formed during the Afghan–Soviet war. In this revealing memoir, Anas shatters some of al-Qaeda’s foundational myths, and rethinks what it means to be a Jihadist in the modern world.


‘An unusual personal foray into the motives of the jihadis from one of their number. Anas . . . describes vividly for a western audience the human story . . . [a] fascinating book.’ — The Times

‘A tantalising account.’ — The Financial Times

‘Specialists and scholars will enjoy the accounts of arguments among different Afghan factions and the personal details related about key figures from the period . . . a valiant attempt to create something accessible and readable.’ — The Observer

‘A treasure trove for scholars and historians, [To The Mountains] also provides fresh food for thought for all those, Muslim or non-Muslim, trying to understand how to build enduring peace settlements in Muslim-majority countries.’ — War on the Rocks

‘This important memoir … is a valuable resource that deserves a broad readership.’ — The New Arab

‘Paints a dystopian picture of endless warfare in impoverished cities.’ — New Frame

‘Provides an insider’s perspective of how jihadism emerged from the Afghan-Soviet war.’ — Middle East Journal

‘A fascinating book with new insights and anecdotes in a history which resonates to this day.’   Lyse Doucet

‘No one knows the story of the Afghan Arabs better than Abdullah Anas. His personal story and his observations of the recent developments in the Arab world will surely be a revelation.’ — Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower

‘Anas has had a ringside seat at the most important moments in the evolution of the Islamist movement, from his early involvement in the Afghan–Soviet war to his more recent role as a negotiator with the Taliban.’ — Peter Bergen, New America / CNN

‘I have no doubt that this book will be useful for future generations … to take advantage of his experience and to avoid making the mistakes that many of his generation made.’ — Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi

‘Anas is an essential voice in the debate about Jihad and what it means for our societies. Told with honesty, modesty and clarity, To the Mountains deserves to be widely read.’ — Mike Martin, author of An Intimate War

To the Mountains presents stories from the beating heart of the Afghan Jihad. This is essential reading, a first-hand eyewitness account with a message for the next generation.’ — Alex Strick van Linschoten, co-editor of The Taliban Reader

‘Through the mountains of Afghanistan, the killing fields and torture chambers of Algeria, the streets of Londonistan, and the world’s highest diplomatic venues, Anas traces a journey that ends, despite everything, in unexpected hope.’ — Barnett Rubin, Center on International Cooperation


Abdullah Anas is an Algerian politician-in-exile and former member of the mujahideen who fought alongside bin Laden before falling out with the al-Qaeda leader over his plans for a global Jihad. He lives in London, having gained political asylum.

Tam Hussein is an award-winning investigative journalist and writer who has reported on UK Jihadist networks and British foreign fighters in Syria.

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