I am determined to convince the United States government what an underutilized asset it possesses in Will McCants. So it is nice to see Will's blog, Jihadica, get a major shout-out in the New York Times along with another one of my heroes, Thomas Hegghammer:
For the Western analysts, being cited approvingly by a Qaeda figure can be unsettling.
“It is inevitably a little bit flattering,” said Thomas Hegghammer, a fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, who first pointed out Mr. Maqdisi’s complaint on the blog he edits, Jihadica. “But it does make me worry a bit about the implications of what I do and what I write.”
The home page of the Jihadica site, founded a year ago by the scholar William F. McCants, advertises itself with an anonymous quotation said to be taken from a survey of jihadists about Internet sites that monitor militant Islamism online: “It is, in my view, the most important and dangerous among the sites in this group.”
All this self-consciousness is multiplied by the Internet, which has become a recruiting tool for jihadists but is also uniquely vulnerable to spies and informers. The fact that Western scholars and defense analysts have occasionally proposed using influential theorists like Mr. Maqdisi to undermine jihadist movements only makes this worse.
I was supposed to have had dinner with Will and Hegghammer two weeks ago, but church obligations -- and the fact that Will lives off the metro -- conspired against me.