Dr. 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 as it relates to the Middle East and North Africa.
Currently, he is the Richard Borrow Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a Visiting Research Scholar at Brandeis University. Zelin is the author of the forthcoming book Your Sons Are At Your Service: Tunisia’s Missionaries of Jihad (Columbia University Press). He is also the founder of the widely acclaimed and cited website Jihadology and its podcast, JihadPod.
Zelin’s research focuses on Sunni Arab jihadi groups in North Africa and Syria as well as the trend of foreign fighting, online jihadism, and jihadi governance. He is the author of a number of influential studies:
- March 2012: The YouTube Jihadists: A Social Network Analysis of Al-Muhajiroun’s Propaganda Campaign [With Jytte Klausen, Eliane Barbieri, and Aaron Reichlin-Melnick]
- November 2012: Maqdisi’s Disciples in Libya and Tunisia
- January 2013: The State of the Global Jihad Online: A Qualitative, Quantitative, and Cross-Lingual Analysis
- March 2013: Meeting Tunisia’s Ansar al-Sharia
- July 2013: How Syria’s Civil War Became a Holy Crusade [With Thomas Hegghammer]
- August 2013: Libya’s Jihadists Beyond Benghazi
- January 2014: The Vocabulary of Sectarianism [With Phillip Smyth]
- May 2014: When Jihadists Learn How to Help
- June 2014: The ISIS Guide to Building an Islamic State
- June 2014: The War Between ISIS and al-Qaeda for Supremacy of the Global Jihadist Movement
- January 2015: The Islamic State’s Model
- August 2015: Picture Or It Didn’t Happen: A Snapshot of the Islamic State’s Official Media Output
- September 2015: From the Archduke to the Caliph: The Islamist Evolution that Led to the ‘Islamic State’
- January 2016: The Islamic State’s Territorial Methodology
- June 2016: The Islamic State’s Views on Homosexuality [With Jacob Olidort]
- July 2016: Jihadism in Lebanon After the Syrian Uprising
- April 2017: Fifteen Years Since the Djerba Synagogue Bombing
- June 2017: How al-Qaeda Survived Drones, Uprisings, and the Islamic State (editor)
- January 2018: The Others: Foreign Fighters in Libya
- October 2018: Tunisia’s Female Jihadists
- November 2018: Tunisian Foreign Fighters in Iraq and Syria
- February 2019: Not Gonna Be Able To Do It: al-Qaeda in Tunisia’s Inability to Take Advantage of the Islamic State’s Setbacks
- September 2019: The Development of Tunisia’s Domestic Counter-Terrorism Finance Capability [With Katherine Bauer]
- October 2019: Wilayat al-Hawl: ‘Remaining’ and Incubating the Next Islamic State Generation.
Zelin received his PhD in War Studies from King’s College London in December 2017. There, he wrote his dissertation on the history of the Tunisian jihadi movement, which was nominated for the King’s College London Graduate School Prize for Outstanding PhD Thesis. As part of the PhD program, he was the Sami David Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence from 2013-2015. In 2014, he was also a Gingko Library Scholar.
Previously, Zelin was a research associate for Dr. Jytte Klausen’s Western Jihadism Project at Brandeis University. He 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. 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. Zelin also received his B.A. in Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Culture at Indiana University-Bloomington in May 2008. He was a member of the Political Science honors society Pi Sigma Alpha.
E-mail: azelin [at] jihadology [dot] net