6th ASPI-KAS Australia-Europe Counter Terrorism Dialogue 2020 - Session 1

“The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Extremism Dynamics: Towards National Resilience”

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s (KAS) Regional Program Australia and the Pacific in cooperation with The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) are holding their annual Australia-Europe Counter Terrorism Dialogue in virtual form this year – through two separate discussions on the 18th of August and 1st of September 2020


The topic for the entire dialogue/discussion series centres around building national resilience as the COVID-19 crisis is impacting dynamics of (violent) extremism and terrorism – which thrive on crisis narratives. While the first session will focus on the ideological dynamics, the second session is dedicated to developments in the operational environment.


This is an invitation-only, closed-door event under Chatham House Rule


For the first session, the Australian Keynote Speaker will be Heather Cook, Deputy Director ASIO and from Germany, Dr Daniel Heinke, Chief of Bureau of Operations, Bremen State Police and Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Police & Security Research, University of Bremen and the

George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. In the second session, Ian McCartney, Deputy Commissioner Investigations at the Australian Federal Police and Wil van Gemert, Deputy Executive Director, Operations Directorate Europol will be delivering the keynote addresses before a moderated discussion with a select group of experts.


This annual 1.5 Track dialogue was initiated in October 2015 by Dr Beatrice Gorawantschy, the Director of the Regional Programme Australia and the Pacific at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) and Mr Peter Jennings, the Executive Director of the Australian Policy Institute (ASPI). Dr. Gorawantschy and Mr Jennings had recognised that Australia and Europe shared many similar challenges in countering violent extremism (CVE) and terrorism – and yet no forum existed for those involved in combatting these issues to share their views, develop better understandings and explore how cooperation could be strengthened. This proved to be a winning formula, and the dialogue has since been held interchangeably in either Australia or Germany/Europe to allow for an ongoing exchange between experts and practitioners from both regions.


On the occasion of the fourth dialogue in 2018, (then Assistant Home Affairs) Minister Linda Reynold noted in her opening speech, “the fact this is the fourth dialogue of its kind is testimony to two things: the enduring success of this event; and its value as a forum in bringing together people with a shared determination to manage a great evil of our times”.


Seeking to continue with this vision, the 2020 ASPI-KAS Australia-Europe CT Dialogue, now in its 6th iteration, aims to explore how to proactively deal with an ever-evolving threat landscape. Usually, this is achieved through a combination of roundtables, an in-depth seminar and meetings at various relevant institutions and ministries, as well as the respective federal, state and EU Parliaments.  This year’s dialogue will have to take place in a slightly altered virtual format – through separate sessions with the European keynote speaker livestreamed for a debate with a selected group of Australian and European experts.


Key Points:


*Hybridity of Protests with interlinking ideological currents that transcend a unified political agenda: right-wing extremism, left-wing extremism, anti-vacciners and conspiracy theorists – here Germany makes for an especially interesting comparison


*Offline/Online Dynamics: A Changed Field of Operations?


*Lessons from Counter-Terrorism: Appropriate legislation/policy measures. How to avoid exacerbating existing divisions?


A publication will be released afterwards to provide an overview of the most pertinent points and insights.

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Katja Theodorakis

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Senior Programme Coordinator Research and Analysis
Foreign and Security Policy +61 2 6154 9325