The documentary "The Power of Nightmares (2004)" by Adam Curtis claims that various Arab nations like Egypt emptied prisons and sent prisoners to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Is this true?

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If the question is specifically about whether they "emptied the prisons and sent prisoners to fight", then no, probably not.

It is uncontroversial that Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt did provide material support to the mujahideen (Grau 2010). At the time the Egyptian military spoke openly about the fact that they were training Afghan mujahideen in Egypt and sending them back to fight.

There were also "between 5,000 and 10,000 zealous youths from around the Muslim world, including many from Egypt," who fought against the Soviets alongside the mujahideen in Afghanistan (Nedoroscik 2002).

Many political prisoners from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were released under Sadat, but that happened from 1971 to 1975, well before the Soviet invasion. It's conceivable that some of them went to Afghanistan.

However regarding the idea that prisoners were being released for the specific purpose of fighting in Afghanistan, or even that Arab governments were actively recruiting or sending any of their own nationals to Afghanistan, I'm not seeing direct evidence for that so far.

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