Aaron Y. Zelin’s experiences researching and working in the academic and policy world provides him with a unique ability to bridge the gap between academically rigorous research and providing a practical way of understanding complex and nuanced issues, especially as it relates to the Islamic and Middle Eastern world.
Currently, he is the Richard Borrow Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Sami David Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence. He is also a PhD candidate at King’s College London where he is writing his dissertation on the history of the Tunisian jihadi movement. Zelin is also the founder of the widely acclaimed and cited website Jihadology.net, which is a clearinghouse for Sunni jihadi primary source material and Phillip Smyth’s influential Shia militancy column Hizballah Cavalcade as well as a translation service.
Zelin’s research focuses on global jihadi groups, with a particular focus on the Ansar al-Sharia phenomenon in North Africa and the Islamic State/Jabhat al-Nusra in the Levant. He is most interested in aspects related to its ideology and propaganda, its social movement, its social services/governance, and its online apparatus.
Previously, Mr. Zelin was a research associate for Dr. Jytte Klausen’s, the Lawrence A. Wien Professor of International Cooperation in the Department of Politics at Brandeis University, Western Jihadism Project. In this position, he was responsible for the following: (1) identifying, collecting, archiving, and analyzing primary source documents including in Arabic by Western jihadis; (2) creating a plot list library that sources all plots against the West by jihadis since the mid-1990s and important individuals who played a role in them; and (3) writing research articles and reports on Western jihadi networks.
Mr. Zelin received his M.A. in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University in May 2010. His master’s thesis was on the intellectual origins of al-Qaeda’s ideology that attempted to provide a more interdisciplinary approach to understanding the phenomenon in the broad sweep of Islamic intellectual history, which drew upon sources from classical Islamic studies, Qur’anic studies and its sciences as well as analyzing the works of the thinkers’ primary sources. In the three summers of 2009-2011 he studied Arabic in Egypt at the American University in Cairo, in Morocco at the Arabic Language Institute in Fez, and at Middlebury College’s Sunderland Language Center.
This blog is for academic purposes only and it does not endorse any of the jihadist material that is posted on it. Jihadology is a personal project of Aaron Y. Zelin and is not associated with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
E-mail: azelin [at] jihadology [dot] net