Shiraz Maher

Dr Shiraz Maher is Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London, and a lecturer in the Department of War Studies. He currently leads ICSR’s research on the crisis in Syria and Iraq, and studies the use of Islamic jurisprudence by Salafi-Jihadi movements. He is also interested in how non-state actors seek to administer newly ungoverned spaces in the region. 

The BBC has described him as “one of the world’s leading experts on radicalisation,” and the Washington Post called him “a respected specialist on Islamic State.” The Observer’s Jason Burke says he has “a justified reputation as a leading authority on contemporary Islamic extremism.” 

Maher’s bookSalafi-Jihadism: The History of an Ideahas been widely lauded as a groundbreaking exploration of the ideology behind contemporary jihadist movements. It was picked by Foreign Affairs magazine as Book of the Year for 2017. The Economist described it as, “an excellent and original account of what jihadists actually think…a must read.” The New Statesman called it “a ground-breaking study...a masterclass in how to do intellectual history, and one that nobody with an interest in radical Islam should miss.” 

Maher is an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University in the United States and was a Visiting Lecturer at Washington College in 2012. He has conducted fieldwork across the world, interviewing members of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Free Syrian Army. Most recently, he has conducted interviews with more than 100 western foreign fighters in Syria.

Maher is also a contributing writer for the New Statesman, writing on the Middle East, terrorism threats to Europe, and Islamic extremism. Maher’s writings were shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for political writing in 2016. 

This individual is a guest contributor for, and is not affiliated with The Middle East Institute.