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Brian Glyn Williams

Professor of Islamic History, UMass Dartmouth

Dr Brian Glyn Williams is tenured Full Professor of Islamic History at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and formerly taught at the University of London. He is author of 7 books on warfare, terrorism, and ethnicity in Islamic Eurasia based on his extensive fieldwork in war zones ranging from Kosovo and Bosnia to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir. HIs latest book 'Counter Jihad. The American Military Experience in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria' (2018) was endorsed by former Central Command commander and CIA Director General David Petraeus as "A superb chronicle of the campaigns to counter Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their affiliates—by a student of, and participant in, those campaigns." This book has been adopted by various military and intelligence curriculums.

Dr. Williams' participation in campaigns to counter terrorism has included work tracking Taliban and Al Qaeda suicide bombers for the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center in war-torn eastern Afghanistan and work for the US Army's Information Operations Team in Afghanistan. He has also lectured at NSA HQ, trained US Marines deploying to fight in the Afghan theater on country conditions, lectured at Special Operations Command in Tampa, lectured at the Naval War Academy, and worked for the US Army's Joint Information Operations Warfare Command.

Professor Williams' most recent fieldwork involved traveling to the Mosul region in Iraq to help buy a Yazidi slave girl from her ISIS owner and return her to her parents. He has also spent time on the frontlines with ISIS among the legendary anti-ISIS Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. Among Dr. Williams' most popular fieldwork-based books is his work which formed half the basis for the Hollywood epic war movie '12 Strong,' his 2015 biography with Harper Collins, 'The Last Warlord. The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior who Led US Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime.' This book is based on Williams' two summers spent living in the deserts of northern Afghanistan with the larger than life anti-Taliban Mongol warlord General Dostum and his warriors led horse charges alongside the Green Berets in 2001 and who is now vice president of Afghanistan.

Dr. Williams has also written a book that chronicles the history of the CIA's covert drone counter-terrorism targeting program in the remote tribal zones of Pakistan where BIn Laden was killed and where Dr. Williams carried out his fieldwork. The British rock band Muse attributed their Grammy-winning number one billboard album 'Drones' to Williams' book 'Predators. The CIA's Drone War on Al Qaeda.' Other books by Williams include 'Inferno in Chechnya. The Russian Chechen Wars, the Al Qaeda Myth and the Boston Marathon Bombing' (Dartmouth) and 'The Crimean Tatars. From Soviet Genocide to Putin's Conquest' (Oxford Univ.) His book 'Afghanistan Declassified. A Guide to America's Longest War' is a civilian version of a manual he was hired to write for US Army intelligence.

Dr. Williams has also testified as an expert witness in the Guantanamo Bay trial of Osama Bin Laden's driver in the first military tribunal since World War II's Nuremberg Trials and in the Canadian Supreme court in a terrorism case. His research and books have been reviewed and mentioned in a wide range of venues including The New York Times, Newsweek, LA Times, Time Magazine, Boston Globe, CNN, Al Jazeera, Times of London, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Miami Herald, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, AP, The Atlantic. His work for the CIA is the subject of a chapter in the latest book by bestselling Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Coll's, 'Directorate S.'

Dr Williams has also been interviewed on warfare and terrorism by CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Charlie Rose, and NPR. For photographs and videos from Professor Williams' fieldwork in Islamic Eurasia, his books, his articles in various flagship journals ranging from The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society to West Point's Counter Terrorism Center 'Sentinel,' media appearances, and CV, see his interactive website at:

Dr. Williams speaks Russian, which he began studying while living in the USSR during a semester abroad in Moscow and Leningrad, and Turkish (he spends his summers on Turkey's Mediterranean coast where he writes his books). He is a dual British American citizen who grew up in the Snowdonia Mountains of Wales and east coast of Florida and currently lives in Boston with his rescue mutt and aide de camp, Roy. He is currently finishing a book on the rise and fall of the ISIS Caliphate which will be informed by fieldwork in the Kurdish lands of Syria.


  • –present
    Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth


  • 1999 
    University of Wisconsin, PhD, Middle Eastern and Islamic Central Asian History.


Scholar of the Year 2008 University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, awards given by the US Army's JIOWC and IO Team in Afghanistan for service to the mission