The man said to be responsible for bringing al Qaeda to Afghanistan announced he was running for president on Thursday (October 3) a move likely to be greeted with apprehension by the international community.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is barred from running by the constitution, and the new government is seen as an opportunity to push the country away from years of damaging allegations of corruption and maladministration.
Next year, millions of Afghans will vote in what is being hailed as the most important election since the United States-led war against the Afghan Taliban began 12 years ago.
NATO and the U.S. are also pushing for a credible vote ahead of the exit of tens of thousands of foreign combat troops by the end of the next year.
The Philippine insurgent group Abu Sayyaf is named after him and he was mentioned in the 9/11 commission reports as "mentor" to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the operational mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
A conservative Islamic scholar, Sayyaf ran paramilitary training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1980s and 1990s, and it was there he meet al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
In 1996, Sayyaf helped bin Laden return to Afghanistan after he was ejected from Sudan. Bin Laden stayed in the country under the protection of the Taliban until the American-led invasion of late 2001.
Presented by Adam Justice