December 8, 2015

Georgetown Professor Releases New Book on Global Terrorism

Daniel Byman, a distinguished professor in the School of Foreign Service, recently released a new book, Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Global Jihadist Movement: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Published in October 2015, the work offers a comprehensive look at Al-Qaeda and its impact on the United States’ policy directives. 

What Everyone Needs to Know

“Since 9/11, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and broader jihadist movements have been arguably the most important part of U.S. foreign policy,” says Byman. “Unfortunately, I think even today, these groups are greatly misunderstood.”

Byman’s book is part of Oxford University Press’s What Everyone Needs to Know series, which engages experts on timely topics.

The book traces the development of global jihad from the Soviet Union’s intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 to the recent rise and expansion of ISIS.

Byman says conducting research for the project was difficult because of the dynamic and rapidly changing nature of ISIS.

“Much of what you would want from traditional academic research is impossible with the Islamic State. Access to the group is extremely limited, and the Islamic State is a dynamic organization; what was true two years ago is not necessarily true today.”

However, Byman used unconventional research methods to overcome these challenges.

“One way of accessing information is through social media. These groups broadcast huge amounts of information online, which reflect the perspectives of the ordinary people on the ground.”

He adds, “We can also use Skype to reach into conflict zones, which was much more difficult to do in the past.” 

Daniel Byman

Byman is considered an authoritative voice on the topic of global jihad.

In addition to teaching in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown, he is also senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Middle East Policy.

Byman is particularly well known for his work on the 9/11 Commission. He worked as a professional staff member on the commission and with the Joint 9/11 Inquiry Staff of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

“It was an exciting experience, and I could really see how the different pieces of the U.S. government fit together. The 9/11 attacks were so off the charts, and it was interesting for me to learn all this information about how the government was handling counterterrorism,” reflected Byman. 

Security Studies at Georgetown

Byman has taught various classes on terrorism, security, and the Middle East at Georgetown. In spring 2016 he will teach two seminars on terrorism, counter-terrorism, and sub-state violence.

“I honestly think Georgetown is the best place in the world to study terrorism and security,” states Byman.

“We are at the center of the security world, which creates a circle of professors and students who are truly passionate about these topics.”

More information about Byman’s latest book can be found here.