The National Security College’s research in terrorism, counterterrorism and countering violent extremism (CVE) is centred on understanding the context of contemporary political violence and critically engaging with new approaches to facilitate rigorous scholarly analysis, and the development of tools to identify potential terrorists before they emerge. Our research recognises the inherent complexity and diversity of violent extremist groups and individuals; the interplay of politics, religion and statehood; and how globalisation transforms the reach and impact of violent extremism.
Empirically, our research engages with prevailing concerns around radicalisation and extremist propaganda, the recruitment (and return) of foreign fighters, terrorists’ use of the internet, and future forms of extremism. This research is evidence-based and seeks to interrogate long held assumptions around the causes of violent extremism and effective CVE strategies.
We analyse contemporary trends in terrorism and its linkages to other security challenges, and generate practical policy options to help reduce the frequency, severity and scope of terrorism’s impact on societies. We also build tools to authoritatively identify terrorists through their texts, particularly in social media, and to identify individuals at risk of radicalisation - a project being undertaken in collaboration with Professor Terry Bossomaier from Charles Sturt University.
The research program seeks to identify answers to a number of questions:
- What are the key social, economic, political and cultural drivers behind terrorism and political violence?
- How may the identities of terrorists be confirmed, particularly in social media?
- How may individuals at risk of radicalisation be identified at the earliest stage?
- How are patterns of terrorism changing in their global, regional and local contexts?
- What governance hurdles do states face in attempting to address the challenge of international, transnational and domestic terrorism?
- What methods – whether based on formal modelling, data analysis or qualitative research – are most helpful for addressing specific instances of terrorism and political violence?
- How might policy settings be adjusted to diminish the threat of terrorism?
- How can we enhance knowledge and anticipation of the unintended consequences of counter-terrorism initiatives?
- What are effective strategies for inhibiting, countering or deterring violent extremism (and its contributory processes)?