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Research Associate, Brandeis University

Aaron Y. Zelin is currently a research associate for Dr. Jytte Klausen, who is the Lawrence A. Wien Professor of International Cooperation in the Department of Politics at Brandeis University. Zelin received his M.A. in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University in May 2010. His master’s thesis was on the intellectual origins of al-Qaeda’s ideology that attempted to provide a more interdisciplinary approach to understanding the phenomenon in the broad sweep of Islamic intellectual history, which drew upon sources from classical Islamic studies, Qur’anic studies and its sciences as well as analyzing the works of the thinkers’ primary sources. In addition to Zelin’s academic background, he has written for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and The CTC Sentinel, among others. He also maintains a website, Jihadology, which is a clearinghouse for newly released jihadi primary source material in multiple languages, including Arabic. Based on the information he has uncovered, he has become a resource for academics; government, intelligence, and law enforcement officials; as well as journalists and independent researchers. His research has been quoted or cited in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Associated Press, Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, Mother Jones, Wired, TIME, The Telegraph, and The Toronto Star; and he has appeared on CNN, NPR, and BBC Radio 4.


  • 2010–present
    Research Associate, Department of Politics, Brandeis University


  • 2010 
    Brandeis University, M.A. Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
  • 2008 
    Indiana University, B.A. Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

Research Areas

  • Islamic Studies (220403)
  • Middle Eastern And African History (210310)