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. His research focuses on Salafi politics and global jihadi activism and reactions to the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Mr. Zelin also serves as a consultant and lecturer for the USMA at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s Practitioner Education Program.
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. The previous three summers he has 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.
In addition to Zelin’s academic background, he has written for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The CTC Sentinel, Terrorism and Political Violence, Sada Journal, Jamestown Foundation, Central Asia Caucasus Institute Analyst, Internationale Politik, and The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He also maintains a website, Jihadology, which is a clearinghouse for newly released jihadi primary source material in multiple languages, including Arabic. He has been described by Jihadica, the premiere website that covers jihadi studies, as a “valuable resource” for primary jihadi literature and analysis. Based on the information he has uncovered, he has become a resource for academics; government, intelligence, and law enforcement officials; as well as journalists and independent researchers. As a result, many have viewed him as an authority on jihadi responses to the Arab spring and the death of Osama bin Laden. His research has been quoted or cited in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Associated Press, Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, Mother Jones, Wired, TIME, The Telegraph, and The Toronto Star; and he has appeared on CNN, NPR, and BBC Radio 4.
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