William Young

Photo of William Young
Adjunct Policy Analyst
Off Site Office


M.Phil in political science, Columbia University; M.A. in political science, New York University; B.A. in history, Albright College

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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William Young is an adjunct policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. He managed and led intelligence collection operations for the National Clandestine Service for over 30 years before he retired in December 2011. He spent most of his career in the Middle East and South Asia working on counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and counterproliferation issues. Young also served in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) as the Intelligence Community’s mission manager for Yemen and Somalia and as the National Intelligence Manager for Yemen. Prior to his work for the ODNI, he was the director of the Operations Technology Office at the CIA.

Young holds an M.Phil. in political science from Columbia University, an M.A. in political science from New York University, and a B.A. in history from Albright College.

Recent Media Appearances

Commentary: CNN; Newsweek; USA Today; U.S. News & World Report


  • Saudi border guards patrol Saudi Arabia's northern border with Iraq

    ISIS Aims to Occupy Mecca

    As ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reaches for control of the holy sites in and around Mecca and Medina and the wealth that comes with them, the U.S., NATO, and others should consider providing significant equipment and know-how to shore up the border defenses of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan.

    Jan 19, 2015 Newsweek

  • Syrian refugees walk amid damage and the remains of tents that were burnt in the fighting between Lebanese army soldiers and Islamist militants in the Sunni Muslim border town of Arsal, August 9, 2014

    To Fight ISIS, Make Peace with Syria's Assad

    To disrupt al-Baghdadi's advance, the United States and its allies should start by addressing the source of the problem -- the conflict in Syria. They can begin by negotiating a truce with President Bashar Assad to stop the fighting in Syria.

    Aug 14, 2014 USA Today

  • Volunteers, who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in a parade in eastern Baghdad, June 15, 2014

    Key to Iraq May Rest with Syria

    The answer to the fighting and instability in the region may lie in a negotiated settlement, which includes negotiating with Syrian President Bashar Assad, perhaps brokered through the Russians and Iranians. As unpalatable as it may be to the West, such a settlement would acknowledge the political and geographical realities on the ground.

    Jun 16, 2014 USA Today

  • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

    Facing Syrian Realities

    President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Abdullah offers an opportunity to engage in a much needed dialogue about the future of the conflict in Syria and to hear what a strong ally and friend has to say about stability in the region.

    Feb 28, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. consulate in Lahore, Pakistan

    Building a More Secure American Embassy

    The recent decision to close 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa because of intelligence indicating terrorist planning for unspecific attacks underscores the need to continue focusing attention and resources on the danger al-Qaida and its affiliates pose to the United States and its allies.

    Sep 5, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  •  Marines stand vigilant at U.S. embassy in Haiti

    How to Keep Our Embassies Safe

    The best way to safeguard U.S. diplomatic missions abroad is to think hard up front about the purpose of the mission and to constantly reassess it in light of changing conditions, writes William Young.

    Jun 12, 2013 CNN

  • destruction in Syria

    The Winners and Losers from the Syria Conflict

    Although outside efforts to arm the rebels would help level the playing field in Syria, such a strategy would not ensure victory, and the weapons could fall into the hands of extremists for use against Israel, Jordan and other neighboring countries, writes William Young.

    Jan 31, 2013 CNN

  • Touareg rebels in Mali hoist a flag

    The al Qaeda Threat in North Africa

    Last week's terrorist attack at the In Amenas gas complex in Algeria, along with the recent success of the militant groups fighting government forces in Mali, indicate al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are gaining influence in North Africa. RAND experts weigh in on the latest developments.

    Jan 24, 2013

  • Al Qaeda Threat to U.S. Embassy in Yemen Raises Questions

    As in most war zones and high threat environments, one of the dangers to guard against is complacency...people become accustomed to a certain level of danger and assume that they have everything under control, when in fact they may have not fully thought through the problems posed by an enemy that is continually innovating, writes William Young.

    Jan 4, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • U.S. Embassy security training exercise

    Security Strategies for U.S. Diplomatic Compounds

    Going forward, it's clear the security plan for the U.S. diplomatic presence abroad must include well-developed strategies to both detect and prevent an assault like the one in Libya before it occurs, writes William Young.

    Sep 19, 2012 The RAND Blog