Katja Theodorakis

Head of Counterterrorism Program

Biography

Katja Theodorakis is the Head of ASPI’s Counterterrorism program.

Before joining ASPI, she was Senior Program Coordinator for Research and Analysis (Foreign/Security Policy) at the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation’s Australia Office where she coordinated a portfolio spanning the fields of terrorism/extremism, European defence/security matters, cybersecurity and the wider strategic relations in the Indo-Pacific. This entailed engagement and strategic outreach to the national security community, with the aim of enhancing cooperation between Australia and Germany/Europe.
Katja publishes and presents at seminars, conferences and masterclasses (for representatives from DoD, security agencies, DFAT) and has appeared on national TV and radio for commentary. She has engaged in academic teaching, such as most recently as a seasonal lecturer for a course on ‘Terrorism and Propaganda in Cyberspace’ at the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security at Charles Sturt University. At the Australian National University, Katja has taught and tutored on Middle East politics, Islam and International Terrorism at the postgraduate and undergraduate level.


She is also a member of the Future Operations Research Group and co-founder of the associated Women In Future Operations platform at the UNSW at ADFA. Here, her focus is on insurgent/extremist propaganda and their strategic use in information operations. A key premise underpinning Katja’s research is the need to look beyond technocratic approaches to propaganda campaigns in order to capture the full breadth of extremism, including cognitive and affective factors.


Katja has lived in the Middle East, where she was engaged in educational projects and NGO work in Syria during the early years of Bashar al-Assad’s presidency. She holds a First-Class Honours degree in International Development from the Australian National University, was recipient of several scholarships including an Australian Government Research Training PhD Scholarship, and has been awarded the 2016 ANU Media and Outreach Award as Emerging Media Talent for her commendable media output and performance as a young researcher.

Paper Series

Analysis Briefs

Digital Lens

Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

“That’s the Nature of Politics”? Australia’s Revolving Door Politics Offer a Snapshot of the Political Mood

It’s been an interesting, if not tumultuous 10 days in Australian politics: Australia has, since last week a new Deputy Prime Minister - a change that leaves the Coalition with its sixth ‘PM and deputy PM combination’ since 2013, when it came to power. Michael McCormack from the National Party – the Liberal Party’s Coalition partner which represents rural Australia – was ousted in a so-called ‘Leadership Spill’ in the party room and replaced as party leader (which automatically brings the position of Deputy PM) by Barnaby Joyce. Mr Joyce was forced to resign due to controversial actions as Deputy PM several years back.

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Article

Edited by Katja Theodorakis

Geoconomics and Sovereignty in the Indo-Pacific: Integration across Geographies

KAS Regional Programme Australia and the Pacific hosted a special dialogue event with the Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment at Parliament House.

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Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

PATHS TO PARTNERSHIP: A NEW ERA OF ALIGNMENT?

It has been a big week for multilateralism, diplomacy and partnerships, it appears – with several important summits on the international agenda and big rhetoric by world leaders to mark the occasions. G7 host, Brexit-Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pitched the G7+ (Australia was among several countries invited to the expanded version) under the vision of a new "alliance of democratic states". Likewise, on his first Europe trip as US President, Joe Biden was expected to use the G7 Summit, subsequent EU-US and NATO summits as well as a number of bilateral talks (including with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Queen Elizabeth II) to send a clear a signal of consensus - that the West was once again speaking as one voice. Likewise, in a foreign policy speech on Wednesday last week, ahead of his trip to the Summit, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has given a sweeping foreign policy speech which outlined a vision of enhanced cooperation amongst liberal democracies, identifying five ‘areas of advocacy’ where “liberal democracies should be stepping up with coordinated action”.

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Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

Australia’s New Normal a Guilded Cage? An Update on Pandemic Management

While the Australian Government has successfully stemmed a large nation-wide Covid-19 outbreak, the country’s vaccine rollout did not go as planned and the vast majority of the population is still unvaccinated. Its ‘stay home, save lives’ campaign in the early months of the pandemic was effective in containing the virus and - despite constituting unprecedented restrictions to their freedom- overall, Australians have been largely supportive of the ongoing targeted lockdown and border closure measures. Australia’s borders have been closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and are set to remain so until at least mid next year.

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Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

Budget 2021: The True-Blue Brick Road to Recovery?

The pandemic is far from over. Around the world, there are around 800,000 new cases per day. The euro area has fallen back into recession. By contrast, Australia is now well on the road to recovery. Employment is at a record high, with 75,000 more Australians in jobs than before the pandemic. This Budget is about securing the recovery and setting Australia up for the future. Josh Frydenberg Treasurer

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Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

Lines in the Water: German and European Security Engagement in the Indo-Pacific

Germany is sending a ship to the Indo-Pacific – and it’s a big deal. The German frigate ‘Bayern’ (Bavaria) is expected in Perth in October as part of a journey flanked by engagements with allied nations and organizations (after participating in Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean and the EU’s Operation Atalanta off Somalia, the Bayern will travel through the Strait of Malacca to Australia. On the return journey, it will participate in the United Nations’ sanctions against North Korea, and then pass through the South China Sea).

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Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

“Officially a Terror Organization, Religiously or Ideologically Motivated, Online, Offline, ‘Onlife’?”

A number of interesting debates and developments in regards to extremism/terrorism have been taking place in Australia and New Zealand over recent weeks and months, all to varying degrees related to the Christchurch attack and touching on fundamental questions/ issues.

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Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

The Quad Joint-Leaders Meeting: A New Era of Strategic Leadership in the Indo-Pacific?

This is, I would argue, the most significant thing to have occurred to protect Australia’s security and sovereignty since ANZUS.” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, on the Quad leaders meeting between the heads of state of Australia, India, the US and Japan

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

Saving Journalism and Curbing Platform Power? Australia’s News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code

"People in free societies like Australia who go to ballot boxes, and go and they vote -- that's who should run the world, the people and citizens of the nations of the world, not big global tech giants. "They produce amazing technology that does amazing things … and it's exciting, but at the end of the day, all of these things must be accountable to sovereign elected governments. "Which means at the end of the day, Australians should be in charge." Prime Minister Scott Morrison, February 26 2021

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Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

THE WAY AHEAD FOR US-AUSTRALIA TIES: BEYOND ALLIANCE MANAGEMENT?

"President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia to highlight the strength of the U.S.-Australia alliance, which remains an anchor of stability in the Indo-Pacific and the world.

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Digital Snapshot

by Katja Theodorakis

FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY: 2020 HIGHLIGHTS AND LOOKING AHEAD

2020 is coming to a close and many of us in in the foreign policy and (national) security space may be reflecting back also on the key events of this tumultuous year. As a year marked by staggering impact of the pandemic, the upheavals created by the Trump presidency and his ensuing election loss, Australia’s deteriorating relationship with China, 2020 was not necessarily flanked by too many optimistic takes on world events. Yet, as the US is holding out for the Biden presidency to usher in a new chapter for the country, we also hold high hopes for 2021.

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Publication

By Katja Theodorakis, Leanne Close & Dr Daniel H Heinke

ASPI-KAS SPECIAL REPORT

The report focuses on the overarching theme of the 2020 Australia-Europe Counter-Terrorism dialogue - building national resilience, including consideration of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the dynamics of violent extremism and terrorism - and connects to the issues discussed at the 5th Dialogue in Europe in 2019.

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Article

A Dialogue with the Defence Ministers of Australia and Germany

Edited by Katja Theodorakis

“The Indo-Pacific: Geostrategic Challenges and Opportunities for Australia and Germany”

KAS Australia and the Pacific, in partnership with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), brought together The Honourable Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Federal Minister of Defence, Germany and Senator the Honourable Linda Reynolds CSC, Minister for Defence, Australia for a hybrid dialogue on the strategic outlook in the Indo-Pacific and the potential of Australian–German Defence relations.…

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

Concentric Circles of Extremism: A Lens on The Far Right

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the position of KAS Australia and the Pacific. Rather, they have been selected to present an overview of the various topics and perspectives which have been dominating the public and political debate in the Australia-Pacific region.…

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

The Indo-Pacific: Geostrategic Challenges and Opportunities for Australia and Germany

In light of the recently released German Government Policy Guidelines on the Indo-Pacific and the Australian Government’s Strategic Update 2020, the Ministers discussed their countries’ respective approaches to a rapidly evolving strategic environment. Minister Reynolds explained that changes in the strategic environment required adjustments to the prevailing modus operandi: how militaries innovate, in terms of capabilities, organization and long-term strategic thinking.

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

The Quad and Beyond: Constellations, Partnerships and Alliances across the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic

As global power and wealth have been shifting towards Asia, Australia and increasingly also Europe, are faced with the challenge of how to respond. This is connected to debates about what kinds of alliances, partnerships and collaborative constellations are needed to balance Chinese ambitions.

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

Australia, Germany and Europe as Shapers of the Global Order?

"We can be the shapers of a better global order. This is Europe's vocation."

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in her November 2019 speech as President -Elect to present her Commission’s programme

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

Declaration of Independence? Germany’s New Indo-Pacific Policy Guidelines

Germany has just put itself on the map of the Indo-Pacific by issuing a foreign policy guideline paper that identifies the region as a key strategic priority, pledging to actively contribute to shaping it according to the principles of the rules-based order.

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

‘Tending that Garden’ – Australia’s New Cybersecurity Strategy Amidst a Changing International Society

"It’s fair to say that in 2020, our ‘international society’ is under strain. The reaction of some has been to fret about the weakening of the rules-based international order. Fair enough.

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Digital Snapshot

By Katja Theodorakis

Australia’s Defence Strategic Update and EU Defence: Finding a New Power at the Pointy End of Foreign Policy and Diplomacy?

Disclaimer:The views expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the position of KAS Australia and the Pacific. Rather, they have been selected to present an overview of the various topics and perspectives which have been dominating the public and political debate in the Australia-Pacific region.…

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Publication

By Katja Theodorakis & Dr Isaac Kfir

ASPI-KAS SPECIAL REPORT

A Special Report detailing the findings of our 4th Australia-Europe Counter-Terrorism Dialogue, published in cooperation with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

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Publication

By Katja Theodorakis & Dr Isaac Kfir

ASPI-KAS SPECIAL REPORT

February 2018 3rd Australia-Europe Counter-Terrorism Dialogue: ‘Transforming the New Threat Landscape’ Europe and Australia are connected in many ways. As liberal democratic societies, they share a common normative foundation of values that set the parameters for what the state may or may not do.…

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