Introduction

Gabriel Sjöblom-Fodor (GSF) is a researcher who specializes in the study of religious community
work in the countering of violent extremism and extremist narratives, and how
this work impacts national security. His focus is on deradicalization and prevention of
violence using theological and psychological counseling, as well as the specific politico-religious
and social roots of modern violent extremism. He has a background in journalism
and in politics, and has also previously consulted political parties on the topic of countering
extremism in Sweden, such as the Center Party and Christian Democrat Party. Gabriel
has also consulted and assisted in several research projects on the topics of religious
extremism, Salafism and radicalization. His work is informed by interviewing religious
leaders and actors who witnessed close-up the call to violent extremism during the rise
and peak of the ISIS “Caliphate” and were able to witness first-hand these processes and
engage with radicalized individuals, recruiters and FTFs. This way, a particular strength
of Gabriel’s work is to shed light on how various phenomena and processes are lived and
experienced on a grassroots level among affected populations, communities or groups.
He is interviewed for this Paper by Katja Theodorakis (KT), Head of the Counterterrorism
Program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). Before joining ASPI, Katja
was Senior Program Coordinator for Research and Analysis (Foreign/Security Policy) at
KAS’ Regional Program Australia and the Pacific where she coordinated a portfolio of
terrorism/extremism, European defence/security matters, cybersecurity and the wider
strategic relations in the Indo-Pacific. Katja has previously 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 has also taught and tutored on Middle East politics,
Islam and International Terrorism at the Australian National University.
Additional questions are addressed to Gabriel by Director of KAS Regional Program Australia
and the Pacific, Bertil Wenger (BW) who is particularly interested in how the issues
raised by Gabriel’s research compare to developments in Germany, and what could be
done to counter those challenges.

Introduction

Analysis

End Notes