William McCants

Snapshot
William McCants

Despite ISIS’ success in capturing jihadists’ imagination, the idea of an Islamic state has one fatal flaw: its physical incarnation makes it vulnerable to attack.

Snapshot
William McCants

Although Saudi Arabia’s dislike of Brotherhood political activities abroad is well known, for decades the kingdom has tolerated the local Saudi branch of the Brotherhood. Its sudden reversal is an expression of solidarity with its politically vulnerable allies in the region and a warning to Sunni Islamists to tread carefully.

Snapshot
Michael Doran, William McCants, and Clint Watts

The al Qaeda of yesterday is gone. What is left is a collection of many different splinter organizations, most with local agendas. The United States should treat each on a case-by-case basis, especially in Syria were two affiliates, the al-Nusra front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, are battling it out.

Snapshot
William McCants

A civil war has broken out within al Qaeda, largely because its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has tried to expand the movement too broadly. As al Qaeda affiliates open new fronts in the global jihad, they often disagree about who should call the shots.

Snapshot
William McCants

The overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was yet another sign that the Muslim Brotherhood, once the vanguard of Islamist politics, has ceded the moral and revolutionary high ground to the ultraconservative Salafis.

Snapshot
William McCants

The protests engulfing the Middle East go to the heart of who gets to police public morality in post-Arab Spring states. Salafis see themselves as the rightful guardians of the public sphere, and they are trying to ensure others see them that way, too.

Interview
William McCants

Will McCants answers questions on the past, present, and future of the organization.

Essay
Sept/Oct
2011
William McCants

On 9/11, the global jihadist movement burst into the world's consciousness, but a decade later, thanks in part to the Arab Spring and the killing of Osama bin Laden, it is in crisis. With Western-backed dictators falling, al Qaeda might seem closer than ever to its goal of building Islamic states. But the revolutions have empowered the group's chief rivals instead: Islamist parliamentarians, who are willing to use ballots, not bombs.

Postscript
William McCants

Atiyya's death robs al Qaeda -- already staggering after the loss of bin Laden -- of its key strategist exactly when it needed him most.