Will McCants

William McCants
Native name William Faizi McCants[1]
Born 1975 (age 4041)[1]
Website www.jihadica.com
Academic background
Alma mater Princeton University[1]
Doctoral advisor Michael Cook[1]

Will McCants (born 1975), also known as William Faizi McCants, is a scholar of militant Islamism. He is a fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy and director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution. An adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, he is a former senior advisor on violent extremism to the U.S. State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. Founder and co-editor of the website Jihadica, he is also a former research analyst for CNA, a non-profit organization that encompasses the Center for Naval Analyses and the Institute for Public Research.[2][3]


Described by William Maclean, the security correspondent for Reuters, as "a leading scholar of militant Islamism",[4] McCants was one of a number of experts to be singled out for criticism in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Norway attacks. His message on Twitter saying Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or the Helpers of the Global Jihad, had posted a claim of responsibility for the attacks was given prominence in The New York Times, though he expressed skepticism about the authenticity of the claim and The Times noted it could not be confirmed.[3][5]

In an article published by Brookings, McCants explained the strong Salafist representation in the Egyptian government.[6]

McCants is author of a 2011 book titled Founding Gods, Inventing Nations: Conquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam, based on his doctoral research at Princeton University.

In an August 2016 New York Times article, McCants described Saudis as “both the arsonists and the firefighters” regarding Islamic extremism.[7]

McCants is co-editor of Jihadica.com, which The Economist describes as "a respected website".[8]


Following the revelation by Norwegian police that the prime suspect was a Norwegian man holding anti-Muslim views, McCants was heavily criticized by other bloggers.[5][9] In a piece for Electronicintifada.net entitled "How a clueless 'terrorism expert' set media suspicion on Muslims", Benjamin Doherty described how McCants' tweets were presented in The New York Times and then spread by the BBC, and other mainstream news outlets.[2][5][5][9][10] There has been criticism by some academics of Doherty's article for unfairly blaming McCants for the media's mistakes.[11]



  1. 1 2 3 4 McCants, William F. (November 27, 2011). Founding Gods, Inventing Nations: Conquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam. Princeton University Press. pp. copyright,acknowledgments. ISBN 978-0-691-15148-9.
  2. 1 2 Will McCants (30 June 2011). "Don't Be Evil". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  3. 1 2 Michael Winter (23 July 2011). "17 dead in Oslo bombing, shootings; Norwegian held". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  4. William Maclean (20 July 2011). "Militants plan al Qaeda cartoon for kids, monitors say". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Alastair Macdonald (25 July 2011). "Instant media wounded by rush to judgment on Oslo". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  6. McCants, William. "The Lesser of Two Evils: The Salafi Turn to Party Politics in Egypt". Brookings. Retrieved October 21, 2012.
  7. Shane, Scott (August 25, 2016). "Saudis and Extremism: 'Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters'". NYT. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  8. 1 2 "Inside Account: The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State (Book Review)". The Economist. 26 September 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  9. 1 2 Sarah Lloyd. "Oslo attacker identified, tweeters question why public, media was quick to blame Muslim terrorists". CBS News. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  10. Doherty, Benjamin (23 July 2011). "How a clueless "terrorism expert" set media suspicion on Muslims after Oslo horror". The Electronic Intifada. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  11. Richard Bartholomew, "Blame “Abu Sulayman al-Nasir”, Not Will McCants," 23 July 2011, http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/blame-abu-sulayman-al-nasir-not-will-mccants/

External links

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