William McCants

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William McCants is a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, where he directs its Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. He is author of The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State.

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Material Support

Should the Muslim Brotherhood be Designated a Terrorist Organization?

Certain segments of the American Right have long been spoiling to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization under the material support statute. And now that Donald Trump is president, talk of designating the Brotherhood is heating up. Sen.

Foreign Policy Essay

The Islamic State's Coming Rural Revival

Editor's Note: We've seen this move before. Once again, the Islamic State is on the run, and once again, we are hoping that this is the beginning of the end. Not so fast, contend my Brookings colleague Will McCants and Craig Whiteside of the Naval War College. They look at the period between 2008 and 2011 when the Islamic State's predecessors went to ground in Iraq and draw lessons for how the group might behave a second time around.


Foreign Policy Essay

Don’t (Completely) Blame America for Baghdadi

Editor’s Note: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the brutal leader of the world’s most brutal terrorist group, is an enigma to many Westerners. Unlike Osama bin Laden, Baghdadi does not grant long interviews to Western journalists. So when the group suddenly grabbed Western attention, rumors and false reports abounded. William McCants, the director of the Brookings Project on U.S.

Foreign Policy Essay

The Foreign Policy Essay—Special Edition: First, Do No Harm

Editor’s Note: The White House summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) that will begin tomorrow is a bold attempt to tackle the “root causes” of terrorism. Yet more than a decade after 9/11, neither the United States nor its allies have a strong understanding of how to do so. Indeed, the programmatic track record is more one of noble failures than even limited successes.

Foreign Policy Essay

The Foreign Policy Essay: The Sectarian Apocalypse

Editor’s Note: The savage fighting in Syria and now Iraq seems to grow worse every month. As the U.S. role in the conflict grows, so too does the need to understand the motivations of the fighters, including Westerners who go off to join the fray. Unlike many past conflicts in the Muslim world, the eschatological elements of the Syrian conflict run deep. William McCants, my colleague at Brookings who runs the Project on U.S.

Foreign Policy Essay

The Foreign Policy Essay: Saudi Arabia Dumps the Brotherhood

Editor’s Note: The Arab Spring and the subsequent backlash from authoritarian regimes have created new rifts in the Middle East. One of the biggest new divides is between those who support and those who oppose the Muslim Brotherhood, the inveterate Islamist movement that has branches in many Arab countries. Saudi Arabia in particular has supported the counterrevolution in several countries, backing a crackdown in Bahrain and providing vital financial support for the Egyptian military leaders who overthrew the Brotherhood government there.