2017 ISA Conference Series: Understanding Fidayin Attacks with Herbert Tinsley (START)

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Fidayin is a term used to refer to various military groups willing to sacrifice their lives in open combat with overwhelming enemies, which has been a favored tactic among Islamic warriors and, more recently, jihadist terrorists. According to Herbert Tinsley, a researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre and the November 2015 Paris attacks are potentially the realization of years of covert evolution. The genes of this evolution, known as fidayin tactics, were once claimed by a Pakistani Taliban spokesman to make the mujahidin “invincible.” 

Analysis Bureau Chief Dean Baratta was able to sit down with Mr. Tinsley at the 2017 International Studies Association conference to delve into fidayin attacks, as well as identity construction in jihadist literature. 




Researcher, START

Herbert Tinsley is a researcher at START. He earned a master’s degree in terrorism and nonproliferation studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from the University of Pittsburgh and a diploma with honors in Modern Standard Arabic from the Defense Language Institute. Mr. Tinsley’s research interests include terrorism in the context of new religious movements, apocalyptic millenarianism, fidayin and fidayin-style attacks and identity construction in the jihadist literature.