The effectiveness of terrorist tactics lies in their ability to engender fear. One of the jobs of an analyst is to diminish that fear with facts.
William McCants, Ph.D., an expert on jihadists, terrorism, and Middle Eastern politics, is a research scientist in CNA’s Strategic Studies International Affairs Group, and an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins’ Krieger School.
A former senior adviser for countering violent extremism at the U.S. Department of State, McCants is also well versed in the use of social media to effect change. He helped establish a State Department program to counter online Al Qaeda propaganda that remains successful today and has been noted by The New York Times, The Atlantic, and others.
He’s the founder and co-editor of Jihadica, a group blog that explains the global jihadi movement. Jihadica has been featured on the cover of The New York Times and rated by Technorati as one of the top one hundred blogs on global politics.
Initially skeptical of the usefulness of Twitter, McCants didn’t start using it until after leaving the State Department. Today he is an avid “twitterer.” “At first I thought it wasn’t worthwhile, but many of my friends and colleagues were using it. I was pleasantly surprised by the connections I made. The interactions I’ve had on Twitter just aren’t possible on another medium.”
McCants has been interviewed by major media outlets around the world including the Associated Press, BBC, C-SPAN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Agence France-Presse, The Christian Science Monitor, Reuters, Voice of America, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Foreign Policy, and many others. McCants’ article on al-Qaeda headlined the 9/11 10th anniversary edition of Foreign Affairs.
McCants has also recently completed his first book, Founding Gods, Inventing Nations: Conquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam, published by Princeton University Press. McCants shares, “The accomplishment I am most proud of is finishing my book. After I left academia, I wasn’t sure I had the time and energy to turn my research into a book. I’m very proud that I was able to complete it.”