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ASPI-KAS 4th Australia-Europe Counter-Terrorism Dialogue 'Shifting frontiers: addressing post-caliphate terrorism dynamics'

By Isaac Kfir and Katja Theodorakis

In October 2018, a delegation of counterterrorism (CT) practitioners, policymakers and academics travelled from Europe to Australia to participate in the 4th Australia–Europe Counterterrorism Dialogue, titled ‘Shifting Frontiers: Addressing Post-Caliphate Terrorism Dynamics’. This annual Track 1.5 dialogue was initiated in 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 Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). They had recognised that Australia and Europe shared similar challenges in countering violent extremism (CVE)—and yet no forum existed for those involved in combating these issues to share their views, develop better understandings and explore how cooperation could be strengthened.

Proving to be a winning formula, this laid the groundwork for a number of successful seminars and thought-provoking exchanges. The 2017 dialogue, for instance, took an Australian delegation to Berlin and Brussels to explore how to proactively deal with an ever-evolving threat landscape. The 2018 ASPI–KAS Dialogue continued with this theme by focusing on how the fall of the Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’ in the Middle East would affect terrorism dynamics. In particular, it sought to identify the extent to which Australia and European states had adjusted their systems and outlooks to respond to the challenges posed by ISIS in the ‘post-caliphate’ period. Discussions were held under the Chatham House rule to allow for an open, confidential exchange.

This report covers the key themes of the dialogue, which were deliberately chosen to reflect contemporary trends. The overarching purpose is to capture the main ideas discussed at the dialogue and link them to wider policy-relevant debates. The various contributions by participants from Australia and Germany illustrate this breadth of perspectives.