Pieter Van Ostaeyen studied Medieval History with a specialisation in the history of the Crusades (KULeuven 1999) and Arabic and Islamic Studies, focusing on the history of Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi and the Assassins (KULeuven 2003). Van Ostaeyen has been analysing the conflict in Syria since the outset in 2011. In 2012 he began reporting on foreign fighters and extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar as-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa and The Islamic State. Since September 1st 2016 he is a PhD applicant at the University of Leuven researching the usage of social media in the ideological strife between al-Qaeda and The Islamic State. He also previously served as an ICCT Editorial Board member.