The Center for Middle Eastern Studies presents
Senior fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, and director, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, The Brookings Institution
The Islamic State is one of the most lethal and successful jihadist groups in modern history, surpassing even al-Qaida. How has it attracted so many followers and conquered so much land in its relatively brief existence? McCants will discuss the Islamic State’s history, tactics, and goals, and the many ways in which it is more ruthless, more apocalyptic, and more devoted to state-building than any of its predecessors or current competitors.
McCants's recently-published book, The ISIS Apocalypse, is based almost entirely on primary sources in Arabic—including ancient religious texts and secret al-Qaida and Islamic State letters that few have seen—and explores how religious fervor, strategic calculation, and doomsday prophecy shaped the Islamic State's past and foreshadow its dark future.
Will McCants is also an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University and has served in government and think tank positions related to Islam, the Middle East, and terrorism, including as State Department senior adviser for countering violent extremism. He is the author of Founding Gods, Inventing Nations: Conquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam (Princeton University Press, 2011) and The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State (St. Martin's Press, 2015).
Contact: Liz Flanagan