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

Academic Interests

My educational background is interdisciplinary, comprising languages (Arabic and Russian), Middle East studies and modern history. 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 involved in a research initiative 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 assessed 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.

Teaching and tutoring

In spring 2021 I will teach MES4520, a MA-level course with the title: "Making Sense of ISIS: Jihadist insurgencies and proto-states in the contemporary MENA region", a course I also taught in spring 2020. I am also giving seminars at a new MA-topic GreenMENA, dealing with climate change and environmental challenges in the Middle East. 

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

I have supervised six PhD-dissertations until their successful defense, and currently I supervise two doctoral candidates (Gråtrud and Skretting).

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. My Cand.Philol.-dissertation dealt with the early history of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt, 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 in recent years, translated versions have appeared in Turkish and Persian. 

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 2012-13) I worked as part time university lecturer in Middle East studies at the University of Oslo. 


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




Tags: Middle East, Islamism, Jihadism, CIMS


  • Lia, Brynjar (2019). Muhajirat-fenomenet: Hvordan ble kvinner fra Europa rekruttert til ISIL, og hva var deres rolle i Kalifatet?. Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift.  ISSN 0800-336X.  36(2), s 100- 114 . doi: 10.18261/issn.1504-3053-2019-02-02
  • Lia, Brynjar (2017). The Jihādī Jihadi Movement and Rebel Governance: A Reassertion of a Patriarchal Order?. Die Welt des Islams.  ISSN 0043-2539.  57(3-4), s 458- 479 . doi: 10.1163/15700607-05734p09 Full text in Research Archive.
  • Maktabi, Rania & Lia, Brynjar (2017). Middle Eastern Patriarchy in Transition. Die Welt des Islams.  ISSN 0043-2539.  57(3-4), s 265- 277 . doi: 10.1163/15700607-05734p01
  • Lia, Brynjar (2016). En undersøgelse af islamistiske statsdannelsesforsøg, I: Manni Crone (red.),  Splittelsen i Global Jihad. Kampen mellem IS og al-Qaeda.  Dansk Institutt for Internationale Studier.  ISBN 978-87-7605-828-9.  Kapittel.  s 30 - 43
  • Lia, Brynjar (2016). Fanatismens seier? : jihadismens frammarsj i den arabiske verdenen. Babylon - Nordisk tidsskrift for Midtøstenstudier.  ISSN 1503-5727.  14(2), s 60- 85 . doi: 10.5617/ba.4345
  • Lia, Brynjar (2016). Jihadism in the Arab world after 2011: Explaining its expansion. Middle East Policy.  ISSN 1061-1924.  23(4), s 74- 91 . doi: 10.1111/mepo.12234 Full text in Research Archive. Show summary
  • Lia, Brynjar (2016). The Islamist Uprising in Syria, 1976-82: The History and Legacy of a Failed Revolt.. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.  ISSN 1353-0194.  43(4), s 541- 559 . doi: 10.1080/13530194.2016.1139442
  • Nesser, Petter & Lia, Brynjar (2016). Jihadism in Norway: a Typology of Militant Networks in a Peripheral European Country. Perspectives on Terrorism.  ISSN 2334-3745.  10(6), s 121- 134 Full text in Research Archive. Show summary
  • Lia, Brynjar (2015). "Autobiography or Fiction? Ḥasan al-Bannā’s Memoirs Revisited". Journal of Arabic and Islamic studies.  ISSN 0806-198X.  15, s 199- 226 . doi: 10.5617/jais.4647 Full text in Research Archive.
  • Lia, Brynjar (2015). "Korsfarernes medløpere eller lydige undersåtter? Jihadistbevegelsens syn på kristne minoriteter i Midtøsten", I: Berit S Thorbjørnsrud (red.),  De kristne i Midtøsten. Kampen for tilhørighet.  Cappelen Damm Akademisk.  ISBN 978-82-02-48897-0.  Kapittel 10.  s 193 - 213
  • Lia, Brynjar (2015). "Understanding Jihadi Proto-States". Perspectives on Terrorism.  ISSN 2334-3745.  9(4), s 31- 41
  • Lia, Brynjar (2014). Jihadbevegelsen i den arabiske verdenen før og etter 2011 :. Babylon - Nordisk tidsskrift for Midtøstenstudier.  ISSN 1503-5727.  12(2), s 8- 22 . doi: 10.5617/ba.4172 Show summary
  • Lia, Brynjar & Nesser, Petter (2014). Norske muslimske fremmedkrigere. Nytt Norsk Tidsskrift.  ISSN 0800-336X.  (4), s 399- 416
  • Lia, Brynjar (2011). Jihadis divided between strategists and doctrinarians, In Assaf Moghadam & Brian Fishman (ed.),  Fault lines in Global Jihad: Organizational, strategic, and ideological fissures.  Routledge.  ISBN 978-0-415-58624-5.  Chapter 3.  s 69 - 87
  • Lia, Brynjar (2009). Destructive doctrinians : Abu Musab al-Suri's critique of the Salafis in the jihadi current, In Roel Meijer (ed.),  Global Salafism : Islam’s new religious movement.  C. Hurst & Co..  ISBN 9781850659792.  Kapittel.  s 249 - 268
  • Lia, Brynjar (2008). Doctrines for jihadi terrorist training. Terrorism and Political Violence.  ISSN 0954-6553.  20(4), s 518- 542 . doi: 10.1080/09546550802257226
  • Hegghammer, Thomas & Lia, Brynjar (2004). Jihadi Strategic Studies: The Alleged Al Qaida Policy Study Preceding the Madrid Bombings. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism.  ISSN 1057-610X.  27(5), s 355- 375
  • Lia, Brynjar & Kjøk, Åshild (2004). "Energy Supply as Terrorist Targets? Patterns of 'Petroleum Terrorism' 1968-1999" in Daniel Heradstveit & Helge Hveem (eds.) Oil in the Gulf: Obstacles to Democracy and Development. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate, 2004, In Helge Hveem & Daniel Heradstveit (ed.),  Oil in the Gulf. Obstacles to Democracy and Development.  Ashgate.  ISBN 0-7546-3968-1.  Chapter 5.  s 100 - 124
  • Lia, Brynjar & Skjølberg, Katja (2004). "Warum es zu Terrorismus kommt – Ein Überblick über Theorien und Hypothesen zu den Ursachen des Terrorismus". Journal für Konflikt- und Gewaltforschung.  ISSN 1438-9444.  6(1), s 121- 163
  • Skjølberg, Katja & Lia, Brynjar (2004). Warum es zu Terrorismus kommt - Ein Überblick über Theorien und Hypothesen zu den Ursachen des Terrorismus. ?.  6(1), s 121- 163 Show summary
  • Lia, Brynjar (2000). "Mot nye og farlegare formar for terrorisme? Trendar og utviklingstrekk ved moderne terrorisme". Internasjonal Politikk - Skandinavisk tidsskrift for internasjonale studier.  ISSN 0020-577X.  58(3), s 357- 383
  • Lia, Brynjar (1999). "Security challenges in Europe's mediterranean periphery: perspectives and policy dilemmas". European Security.  ISSN 0966-2839.  8(4), s 27- 56
  • Lia, Brynjar (1999). "The establishment of a Palestinian police force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip". International Peacekeeping.  ISSN 1353-3312.  6(4), s 157- 170
  • Lia, Brynjar (1998). "Islamist perceptions of the United Nations and its peacekeeping missions: Some preliminary findings". International Peacekeeping.  ISSN 1353-3312.  5(2), s 38- 63

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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). (جمعیت اخوان المسلمین مصر : ظهور یک جنبش توده ای اسلامی (۱۹۲۸-۱۹۴۲. Pizhūhishkadah-i Tārīkh-i Iṣlām / Research Center for Islamic History.  ISBN 9789640443965.  372 s. Show summary
  • 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. Show summary
  • 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 (2018). Islamistisk ekstremisme - en innføring, I: Ellen Christine Reiss & Linda Noor (red.),  Radikalisering: fenomen og forebygging.  Minotenk / Frekk forlag.  ISBN 978-82-93097-48-8.  Kapittel 8.  s 93 - 103
  • Nickelsen, Trine & Lia, Brynjar (2018). Jihadistene setter ungdommen til å styre. Apollon : Forskningsmagasin for Universitetet i Oslo.  ISSN 0803-6926.  (1), s 28- 31
  • 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. Show summary
  • 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 Mar. 22, 2021 10:30 AM