William McCants is a former Brookings expert. He was senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy and director of its Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. He is also adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University and has held various government and think tank positions related to Islam, the Middle East, and terrorism. From 2009 to 2011, McCants served as a U.S. State Department senior adviser for countering violent extremism. He has also held positions as program manager of the Minerva Initiative for the Department of Defense; an analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses, the Center for Naval Analyses, and SAIC; and a fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. He is the author of “The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State” (St. Martin’s Press, 2015).
McCants is the founder of Jihadica.com, an academic group blog focused on the global jihadi movement. The blog has been featured on the cover of The New York Times, and described by Wired magazine’s Danger Room as “the gold standard in militant studies.” In 2011 and 2012, he was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of its FP’s Top 100 “Twitterati.”
McCants is the author of numerous articles on Islamist politics and terrorism, including the headlining article of Foreign Affairs’ 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Edition. He also edited the Militant Ideology Atlas, which identified the key ideologues in the global jihadi movement, and also translated, from Arabic into English, a book written by an al-Qaida strategist. Much of his current writing is devoted to Salafi parliamentary politics in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
His first book, “Founding Gods, Inventing Nations: Conquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam” (Princeton University Press, 2011), traces the history of cultural debate in the Middle East after the Greeks, Romans and Arabs conquered the region. He is also working on a book about the scriptural history of the Quran.
McCants has a doctorate from Princeton University and has lived in Israel, Egypt, and Lebanon.