The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan appears to have revitalized militant Islamist groups at a time when the jihadi movement was on the decline and the United States hoped to close the 9/11 era. As such, it is the latest in a decades long series of rebounds and unexpected turns in the evolution of militant Islamism. Why is jihadism so difficult to predict, and what, if anything, can social scientists hold on to as reliable indicators and frameworks for estimating its future? In this talk, Dr. Thomas Hegghammer, a senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment in Oslo, will review the forty-year history of scholarly prediction attempts, reflect on his own misjudgments, and draw up tentative - and likely wrong - scenarios for the coming years.

This event will be moderated by MEI Faculty Director Tarek Masoud.

Dr. Thomas Hegghammer is senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) in Oslo. Trained in Middle East Studies at Oxford University and Sciences-Po in Paris, he has held fellowships at Harvard, Princeton, New York, and Stanford Universities, and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has published widely in academic journals, including the American Political Science Review and International Security. He has written several books, most recently The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad (Cambridge, 2020). He has testified in the U.S. Congress and British Parliament, written op-eds for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and appeared on major international news networks.