Brynjar Lia

Professor - Middle East Studies
Image of Brynjar Lia
Norwegian version of this page
Phone +47-22857191
Visiting address Niels Henrik Abels vei 36 P. A. Munchs hus 0371 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 1010 Blindern 0315 OSLO
Other affiliations Department of Political Science

Academic Interests

My educational background includes history, languages (Arabic and Russian) and Middle East studies. In my early career (mid-1990s onwards) the three main areas of my research were (i) Islamist movements in pre-revolutionary Egypt, (ii) Palestinian state building (especially its post-Oslo police and security forces), and (iii) patterns of (non-state) political violence and terrorism. Since the early 2000s, my main research focus has been jihadism and militant Islamist movements, a subject I still follow closely. The impact or relevance of my research was highlighted by the UiO and UiB rectors in March 2017.

Over the past few years I have been studying the evolution of jihadi proto-states, which is also the topic of my ongoing book project. In late 2016 we (Dag Tuastad, Anne StenersenPinar Tank and myself) received funding from the Norwegian Research Council for a four-year research project on rebel governance in the Middle East. Recently, I have also developed an interest in renewable energy issues in the Middle East, and I am currently heading a pilot study on energy transition in the Middle East (GreenMENA). 

I have been a contributing member of several research networks at the Department, including The New Middle East Project (NewME) and Christians in the Middle East: Only at Museums?. The former research group was classified by the Norwegian Research Council report "Evaluation of the Humanities in Norway" as one of seven "especially highperforming and world-leading groups" (p.35). I am also an adjunct research professor at the Norwegian Defense Research Est (FFI) where I collaborate with FFI's research group on jihadism.

For more details on my research, see my publication list below or check my profile at Google Scholar, Academia and ResearchGate.

Teaching and tutoring

I have taught various graduate and undergraduate courses in Middle East studies, including: 

I currently (2017) supervise several MA-students and four doctoral candidates at IKOS (Sogge, Makboul, Aarseth and Skare).

Higher education and employment history

I joined the Department as an associate professor in Middle East studies in January 2014 and was promoted to full professor in early 2015.

I have a Cand.Philol.-degree in history and a Dr.Philos.(PhD) from the University of Oslo with a dissertation on the Palestinian Authority, subsequently published as two books. Between 1996 and 2013 I was a Research Fellow at the Norwegian Defense Research Est. (FFI) where I established and developed an academic research programme on terrorism and jihadism studies. I am currently an adjunct research professor (professor II) at the FFI.

In 2001-2 I was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University.

In 1999-2000 (and again in 2012) I worked as part time university lecturer in Middle East studies at the University of Oslo. 

In 1996 I served in the multinational observer force "Temporary International Presence in Hebron" (TIPH).

In 1996 I obtained my Cand.Philol.-degree on a dissertation on the early history of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement, based on field work and extensive archival research in Cairo and supported by a two-year scholarship from the Research Council of Norway. The thesis was subsequently published as a book and recently, a translated version has appeared in Turkish

In 1993-94 I completed the "Intensive Arabic Language Programme (advanced level)" at the American University in Cairo.

Between 1988 and 1993 I pursued undergraduate studies in a range of disciplines, including sciences, languages (Russian and Arabic), history, and Middle Eastern studies. As part of my undergraduate and graduate training I attended summer courses at Moscow State University, at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and attended classes at Cairo University.

In 1986-88 I completed an 18-month intensive military language programme in Russian studies in the Norwegian army. I then went on to serve as a military interpreter in the Norwegian Coast Guard in the Barents Sea region in 1989-1990. I began my Arabic studies at the University of Oslo in 1990.


Since 2014 I have been Director of Centre for Islamic and Middle East Studies. (I am on a sabbatical in spring 2017 and Associate Professor Joakim Parslow is my replacement in this position).In January 2017 I became editorial board member for Babylon: Nordic Journal of Middle East Studies.

Awards and Scholarships

FFI Publication Awards in 2005, 2011 and 2015. 
Fulbright Visiting Scholar Fellowship, 2001-2002.
Research Council of Norway summer and study scholarships for 1991, 1992, 1993-95.
Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship for 1993-95


I am the author of several acclaimed single author monographs:

Oxford University Press, 2009

Tags: The Middle East, Islamism, Jihadism, CIMS


— “The Jihādī Movement and Rebel Governance: A Reassertion of a Patriarchal Order?” Die Welt des Islams 57, no.3-4 (2017): in press.

— With Rania Maktabi. “Middle Eastern Patriarchy in Transition.” Introduction to special issue of Die Welt des Islams 57, no.3-4 (2017): in press.

"Fanatismens seier? Jihadismens frammarsj i den arabiske verden"Babylon: Nordisk tidsskrift for midtøstenstudier 15, no.2 (2016): 60-85. 

"لماذا تضخمت السلفية الجهادية بعد 2011 ؟", Middle East Policy (Winter 2016). Arabic translation by Iyad Suwid, Research Service Group.

— "Jihadism in the Arab World after 2011Explaining its Expansion", Middle East Policy 23, no.4 (2016): 74-91.

— With P Nesser. "Jihadism in Norway: a Typology of Militant Networks in a Peripheral European Country". Perspectives on Terrorism 10, no.6 (2016): 121-134.

"En undersøgelse af islamistiske statsdannelsesforsøg". In: Splittelsen i global jihad: Kampen mellem IS og al-Qaeda. Edited by Manni Crone. 30-43. Copenhagen: Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), 2016.

"The Islamist Uprising in Syria, 1976-82: The History and Legacy of a Failed Revolt". British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 43, no.4 (2016): 541-559.

"Autobiography or Fiction? Ḥasan al-Bannā’s Memoirs Revisited"Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 15 (2015): 199-226.

"Understanding Jihadi Proto-States"Perspectives on Terrorism: Special Issue on the Islamic State 9, no.4 (2015): 31-41.

"Korsfarernes medløpere eller lydige undersåtter? Jihadistbevegelsens syn på kristne minoriteter i Midtøsten". In De kristne i Midtøsten: kampen for tilhørighet, edited by Berit Thorbjørnsrud. 193-213. Oslo: Cappelen Damm, 2015.

"Jihadistbevegelsen i den arabiske verden før og etter 2011″Babylon: Nordisk tidsskrift for midtøstenstudier 12, no.2 (2014): 8-22.

—  With P Nesser. "Norske muslimske fremmedkrigere". Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift 31, no.4 (2014): 399-416.

— With P Nesser & A Stenersen. "Ekstremisme i sosiale medier: En oversikt over forskning, internasjonale trender og implikasjoner for norske forhold". In Forebygging av radikalisering og voldelig ekstremisme på internett, edited by Inger Marie Sunde. 80-104. Oslo: Politihøyskolen, PHS Forskningsrapport No 2013:1.

"Profetens Ummah og sosiale medier". In Forebygging av radikalisering og voldelig ekstremisme på internett, edited by Inger Marie Sunde. 105-112. Oslo: Politihøyskolen, PHS Forskningsrapport No 2013:1.

Müslüman Kardeşlerin doğuşu 1928-1942. ["The Society of the Muslim Brothers"] Translated by İhsan Toker. Istanbul: Ekin Yayınları, 2013.

"What is terrorism?". In Winds of Change: On Irregular Warfare. 360-374. Helsinki: National Defence University of Finland, Publication series, N:o 18, 2012.

— "Osama bin Laden: mannen bak al-Qaida". Samtiden, no.3 (2011): 247-251.

— "Al Qaeda without Bin Laden". In The U.S. vs. al Qaeda: A History of the War on Terror, edited by Gideon Rose & Jonathan Tepperman. 247-251. New York: Council of Foreign Affairs, 2011.

— "Al Qaeda Without Bin Laden: How Terrorists Cope With their Leader's Death". & (May 11, 2011).

"Jihadis divided between strategists and doctrinarians". In Faultlines in Global Jihad: Organizational, Strategic, and ideological fissures, edited by Assaf Moghadam and Brian Fishman. 69-87. London: Routledge, 2011.

"Insight and Hypotheses on Causes of Terrorism Identified on the Basis of a Survey of the Literature on Terrorism". In The Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research, edited by Alex P. Schmid. 276-279. London: Routledge, 2011.

"Jihadi Strategists and Doctrinarians". In Self-Inflicted Wounds Debates and Divisions within al-Qa’ida and its Periphery, edited by Assaf Moghadam & Brian Fishman. 100-131. New York: Combating Terrorism Center, 2010.

— With P Nesser. "Lessons Learned from the July 2010 Norwegian Terrorist Plot"CTC Sentinel 3, no. 8 (2010): 13-17.

"'Destructive Doctrinairians': Abu Mus‘ab al-Suri's Critique of the Salafis in the Jihadi Current". In Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement, edited by Roel Meijer. 249-268. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

—  With Q Siddique (eds). "Understanding Global Jihadism: Origin, Evolution, and Future Trends". FFI-Report-09/01145. Kjeller: FFI, 2009.

"Al-Qaida’s Appeal: Understanding its Unique Selling Points"Perspectives on Terrorism 2, no. 8 (2008): 3-10.

"Doctrines for jihadi terrorist training"Terrorism and Political Violence 20, no. 4 (2008): 518-542.

Architect of Global Jihad: The Life of Al Qaeda Strategist Abu Musʻab Al-Suri. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007/2012.

"Abu Mus'ab al-Suri's Critique of Hard Line Salafists in the Jihadist Current"CTC Sentinel 1, no. 1 (2007): 1-4.

— "Al-Suri’s Doctrines for Decentralised Jihadi Training". (Part 1), (Part 2), Terrorism Monitor: In-depth analysis of the War on Terror 5, no. 1-2 (Jan-Feb 2007).

— With A Stenersen. "Al-Qaida’s online CBRN manuals: A real threat?". FFI-Report-2007/02405. Kjeller: FFI, 2007.

— With J K Berg. "Terrorisme"Aschehoug og Gyldendals Store norske leksikon. 4. utgave 2005-2007.

"Al-Qaeda’s Dissident Voices"CSIS Congressional Forum on Islam (December 4, 2007).

"Osama bin Ladens taler og skrifter: Eit etterord". In Budskap til verden: Osama bin Ladens ytringer, edited by Bruce Lawrence. 507-523. Oslo: L.S.P. Forlag, 2007.

Building Arafat's Police: The Politics of International Police Assistance in the Palestinian Territories After the Oslo Agreement. Reading: Ithaca Press, 2007.

A Police Force Without a State: A History of the Palestinian Security Forces in the West Bank and Gaza. Reading: Ithaca Press, 2006.

"Al-Qaeda online: understanding jihadist internet infrastructure"Jane’s Intelligence Review 18, no. 1 (2006): 14-19.

— With L Bokhari, T Hegghammer, P Nesser & T H Tønnessen. "Paths to Global Jihad: Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terror Networks". FFI-Report-2006/00935. Kjeller: FFI, 2006.

Globalisation and the Future of Terrorism: Patterns and Predictions. London: Routledge, 2005.

— With K H-W Skjølberg. "Causes of Terrorism: An Expanded and Updated Review of the Literature". FFI-Rapport-2004/04307. Kjeller: FFI, 2004.

— With T Hegghammer. "Jihadi Strategic Studies: The Alleged Al Qaida Policy Study Preceding the Madrid Bombings"Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 27, no. 5 (2004): 355-375.

— With K H-W Skjølberg. "Warum es zu Terrorismus kommt – Ein Überblick über Theorien und Hypothesen zu den Ursachen des Terrorismus"Journal für Konflikt- und Gewaltforschung 6, no. 1 (2004): 121-163.

— With Å Kjøk. "Energy Supply as Terrorist Targets? Patterns of 'Petroleum Terrorism' 1968-1999". In Oil in the Gulf: Obstacles to Democracy and Development, edited by Daniel Heradstveit & Helge Hveem. 100-124. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate, 2004.

"Norge og terrortrusselen etter Irak-krigen". In Hvilket Europa etter Irak: Konsekvenser og utfordringer for Norge, edited by Franck Orban. 31-45. Oslo: Europaprogrammet, 2004.

"Irak og terrortrusselen: Eit oversyn over terrorgrupper med tilknyting til det irakiske regimet". FFI-Report-2003/00940. Kjeller: FFI, 2003.

— With Å Kjøk. "Islamist insurgencies, diasporic support networks, and their host states - the case of the Algerian GIA in Europe 1993-2000". FFI-Report-2001/03789. Kjeller: FFI, 2001.

— With Å Kjøk. "Terrorism and oil - an explosive mixture? A survey of terrorist and rebel attacks on petroleum infrastructure 1968-1999". FFI-Report-2001/04031. Kjeller: FFI, 2001.

"Mot nye og farlegare formar for terrorisme? Trendar og utviklingstrekk ved moderne terrorisme"Internasjonal politikk 58, no. 3 (2000): 357-383.

"The establishment of a Palestinian police force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip"International Peacekeeping 6, no. 4) (1999): 157-170.

"Security challenges in Europe's mediterranean periphery: perspectives and policy dilemmas"European Security 8, no. 4 (1999): 27-56.

"The quest for regional security in the Middle East and North Africa: European and Arab security organisations in the Mediterranean". FFI-Report-99/02252. Kjeller: FFI, 1999.

"Islam, vestleg militærmakt og humanitær intervensjon"PACEM: Militært tidsskrift for etisk og teologisk refleksjon 2, no. 2 (1999): 133-141.

"Islamist perceptions of the United Nations and its peacekeeping missions: Some preliminary findings"International Peacekeeping 5, no. 2 (1998): 38-63.

"'Heilag krig mot vesten?': Islamismen som tryggingspolitisk utfordring". In Sikkerhetspolitisk tenkning i en ny tid: fra enhet til mangfold, edited by Anders Kjølberg & Bernt Bull. 175-212. Oslo: Europaprogrammet, 1998.

The Society of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt: The Rise of an Islamic Mass Movement, 1928-1942. Reading: Ithaca Press, 1998/2006.

"Implementing the Oslo Peace Accords: A Case Study of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process and International Assistance for the Enhancement of Security". FFI-Report-98/01711. Kjeller: FFI, 1998.

"Utsikter til ei fredsløysing for Sør-Libanon". FFI-Rapport-97/01446. Kjeller: FFI, 1997.

"The Use of History in Egyptian Party Politics"Midtøstenforum: Tidsskrift for Midtøsten og Nord-Afrika 9, no. 2 (1995): 38-43.

"Mubaraks regime og Muslimbrørne." Midtøstenforum: Tidsskrift for Midtøsten og Nord-Afrika 9, no. 1 (1995):  54-55.

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  • Lia, Brynjar (2013). Müslüman Kardeşlerin doğuşu 1928-1942. ["The Society of the Muslim Brothers"] (Translated by İhsan Toker). Ekin Yayınları.  ISBN 9789758507818.
  • Lia, Brynjar (2009). Architect of Global Jihad : the life of Al Qaeda strategist Abu Mus'ab al-Suri. Oxford University Press.  ISBN 9780199326457.  510 s.
  • Lia, Brynjar (2007). Architect of Global Jihad: the life of al-Qaida strategist Abu Mus'ab al-Suri. C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd.  ISBN 978-1-85065-856-6.
  • Lia, Brynjar (2007). Building Arafat's police : the politics of international police assistance in the Palestinian territories after the Oslo agreement. Ithaca Press.  ISBN 978-0-86372-305-6.
  • Lia, Brynjar (2006). A Police Force Without a State: A History of the Palestinian Security Forces in the West Bank and Gaza. Ithaca Press.  ISBN 978-0-86372-304-9.  477 s.
  • Lia, Brynjar (2005). Globalisation and the Future of Terrorism: Patterns and Predictions. Routledge.  ISBN 0-7146-5261-X.  259 s.
  • Lia, Brynjar (1998). The Society of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt: The Rise of an Islamic Mass Movement, 1928-1942. Ithaca Press.  ISBN 978-0-86372-314-8.  328 s.

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  • Lia, Brynjar (2015, 10. november). "'Islamsk stat' – vanlegare enn du trur", Apollon, 4/2015, s.51-53. [Fagblad].  Apollon.
  • Trine, Nickelsen & Lia, Brynjar (2014, 10. november). "Fire år etter den arabiske våren: Hva nå, Midtøsten?", Forskningsmagasinet Apollon, 4/2014, s.16-21. [Fagblad].  Forskningsmagasinet Apollon.
  • Lia, Brynjar (2010). Doctrinairians vs Strategists: Fissures in the Jihadi Current.
  • Nesser, Petter & Lia, Brynjar (2010). Lessons Learned from the July 2010 Norwegian Terrorist Plot.
  • Hegghammer, Thomas & Lia, Brynjar (2009). Truer verden med terrorangrep. Dagsavisen.  ISSN 1503-2892.
  • Lia, Brynjar (2008). Al-Qaida's appeal: understanding its unique selling points. Perspectives on Terrorism.  ISSN 2334-3745.  2(8), s 23- 28
  • Skjølberg, Katja & Lia, Brynjar (2007). FACTS AND FICTION IN THEORIES OF TERRORISM - An Expanded and Updated Review of the Literature on Causes of Terrorism.
  • Hegghammer, Thomas; Bokhari, Laila; Lia, Brynjar; Nesser, Petter & Tønnessen, Truls (2006). Paths to Global Jihad: Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terror Networks.
  • Lia, Brynjar & Skjølberg, Katja (2005). Causes of Terrorism: An Expanded and Updated Review of the Literature .
  • Nesser, Petter & Lia, Brynjar (2005). Terror mot jarnvegar - eit oversyn over typiske terroraksjonar mot togpassasjertransport.
  • Nesser, Petter & Lia, Brynjar (2003). Terror mot drikkevann - en oversikt over terrorgruppers interesse for å ramme offentlig vannforsyning.
  • Skjølberg, Katja & Lia, Brynjar (2003). Facts and Fiction in Theories of Terrorism - A Review of Research Literature on Causes of Terrorism.
  • Lia, Brynjar; Hegghammer, Thomas; Andresen, Rolf-Inge Vogt; kjøk, åshild & Bokhari, Laila (2002). Atommateriale, gass og mikrober som terrorvåpen? En undersøkelse av terrorgruppers interesse for og bruk av ikke-konvensjonelle våpen.
  • Lia, Brynjar & Skjølberg, Katja (2000). Why Terrorism Occurs - A Survey of Theories and Hypothesis on the Causes of Terrorism .

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Published Jan. 8, 2014 2:28 PM - Last modified Sep. 18, 2017 6:05 PM