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Dr. Shiraz Maher

Dr. Shiraz Maher


Dr. Shiraz Maher is Co-Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) and a member of the War Studies Department at King’s College London. He currently leads the Centre’s research on the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts and also researches Salafi-Jihadi soteriology.

Maher is a recognised expert on the current Middle East crisis and jihadist movements. The BBC has described him as “one of the world’s leading experts on radicalisation,” and the Washington Post has called him “a respected specialist on Islamic State.” The Observer’s Jason Burke says he has “a justified reputation as a leading authority on contemporary Islamic extremism.”

His book, Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea (Oxford University Press; and Hurst & Co.) has been widely acknowledged as a ground-breaking exploration of the political philosophy behind contemporary jihadist movements. It has been described as “a masterclass in how to do intellectual history,” by Tom Holland, “of considerable scholarly value,” by Mahan Abedin, and “a standard reference for years to come,” by Will McCants.

Maher is also an adjunct lecturer at Johns Hopkins University (where he currently teaches separate courses on radicalisation and political Islam), and was a visiting lecturer at Washington College during the Spring Semester of 2012 (where he taught Middle East politics).

He is a contributing writer for the New Statesman, frequently writing on Islamic State and the broader Middle East. He has conducted fieldwork across the world, interviewing members of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusrah, Ahrar al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army. Most recently, he has conducted interviews with more than 100 Western foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. Based on his insights from those interviews, he has given evidence before two parliamentary committees on the Syrian conflict, the flow of foreign fighters into the country, and the rise of Islamic State.

In 2016 he was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in journalism for his pieces on radicalisation, foreign fighter mobilisation, and the terrorist threat to Europe. He also received the prize for ‘Excellence in Research Innovation and Impact,’ at the King’s Awards in 2015.

Selected Publications

Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea (Oxford University Press; and Hurst & Co.)

Marc‑André Argentino, Shiraz Maher & Charlie Winter, ‘Violent Extremist Innovation: A Cross‑Ideological Analysis’, ICSR 2021. Available here.

James Barnett, Shiraz Maher & Charlie Winter, ‘Literature Review: Innovation, Creativity and the Interplay Between Far‑right and Islamist Extremism’, ICSR 2021. Available here.

Charlie Winter, Shiraz Maher & Aymenn Jawad al‑Tamimi, ‘Understanding Salafi‑Jihadist Attitudes Towards Innovation’, ICSR 2021. Available here.

Amarnath Amarasingam, Shiraz Maher & Charlie Winter, ‘How Telegram Disruption Impacts Jihadist Platform Migration’, Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST) 2021. Available here.

Abdullah Alrhmoun, Shiraz Maher & Charlie Winter, ‘Decoding Hate: Using Experimental Text Analysis to Classify Terrorist Content’, GNET 2020. Available here.

Greenbirds: Measuring Importance and Influence in Syrian Foreign Fighter Networks, ICSR (April 2014; co-authored with Joseph Carter and Peter Neumann)

The Arab Spring and its impact on supply and production in global markets, European Centre for Energy and Resource Security, (October 2013)

Between ‘engagement’ and a ‘values-led’ approach: Britain and the Muslim Brotherhood from 9/11 to the Arab Spring, in Western reactions to the rise of Islamists in the MENA (Al-Mesbar, January 2013; co-authored with Martyn Frampton)

Change and Continuity: Hizb ut Tahrir’s strategy and ideology in Britain, in Revisionism and Diversification in New Religious Movements (Ashgate, October 2013)

‘What Jihadists Thought About Boston,’ Foreign Affairs, (May, 2013)

Al-Qaeda at the crossroads: how the terror group is responding to the loss of its leaders and the Arab Spring, ICSR (August 2012; co-authored with Peter Neumann)

Lights, Camera, Jihad: Al-Shabaab’s Western media strategy, ICSR (November 2012; co-authored with Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and James Sheehan)

‘Jihadis React to Bin Laden’s Death: Islamist websites and the future of al-Qaeda,’ Foreign Affairs, (May 2011)

Preventing Violent Extremism: Lessons from the Government’s revised ‘Prevent’ Strategy, World Defence Systems (September 2011)

Ties that Bind: How the story of Muslim soldiers can forge a national identity, Policy Exchange (September 2011)

Choosing our friends wisely: criteria for engagement with Muslim groups, Policy Exchange (April 2009; co-authored with Martyn Frampton)

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