Author, Non-resident Fellow with the Brookings Institution Project
With roots in newspaper journalism, J.M. Berger is an author and analyst studying online extremism, homegrown terrorism, advanced social media analysis, and countering violent extremism. His book Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam (Potomac Books, 2011), is the only definitive history of American involvement in jihadist movements. He is also co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror (Ecco, 2015) with Jessica Stern, a book that “should be required reading for every politician and policymaker,” according to The Washington Post.
Berger has written extensively on the evolution of al-Qaeda and the rise of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS). He interviewed American al-Shabab member Omar Hammami at length and published a widely read account of their interactions after the jihadist was killed by his former allies in 2013. Berger is especially known for his research into the tactics of extremists on social media. In addition to important articles on the subject for The Atlantic and Foreign Policy, he co-authored the 2013 study “Who Matters Online: Measuring influence, evaluating content and countering violent extremism in online social networks,” which introduced new analytical techniques for understanding extremist social networks. He expanded on these techniques in 2015 with “The ISIS Twitter Census”, published by the Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. In 2004, Berger founded Intelwire.com, a website publishing investigative journalism, analysis, and primary source documents on terrorism and international security, including exclusive declassified documents on the September 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing.
Berger has written for Politico, Foreign Policy, The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Daily Beast Nature, and the CTC Sentinel, and previously worked as a producer for National Public Radio and Public Radio International. He also trains and consults for law enforcement and government agencies on issues related to countering violent extremism and advanced social media analysis.