Lecture Theatre 5, 15:00- 16:30
Chair: Jessicah Mullins


Does experience matter? A comparative analysis of terrorist attacks by returned foreign fighters and inexperienced domestic ISIS supporters
Nicola Mathieson, PhD Candidate, Australian National University

Governments and security experts are gravely concerned about the security risk posed by returned ISIS foreign fighters. Radicalised and battle-hardened, returned citizens have the skills and experience to carry out domestic terrorist attacks. This fear has been reinforced by successful attacks throughout Europe coordinated by ISIS veterans. However, ISIS has claimed responsibility for attacks by individuals that have never visited a warzone or received face-to-face training. This paper explores these two types of terrorist operatives—veteran and self-directed—to determine if there are significant differences between the mode, execution and effectiveness of attacks. I examine terrorist attacks claimed by ISIS against western targets since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2013. This research forms a part of a larger project looking at how levels of experience affect the impact of foreign fighters and the mechanism of knowledge transfer. 

Nicola Mathieson commenced her doctoral studies in 2019. Her PhD project focuses on the impact of foreign fighters on domestic insurgencies. This research looks at how experienced veteran foreign fighters transfer knowledge and experience to domestic insurgencies. This research focuses on the dispersal of Arab volunteers to the Soviet-Afghan War to subsequent armed groups and conflict. Nicola previously worked in the Victorian Government in the Ministerial Office for the Prevention of Family Violence and the Minister for Women, overseeing the implementation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, Victoria’s first Gender Equality Strategy and the inaugural Victoria Against Violence Campaign. She received her BA (Hons) in International Studies from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia and her MPhil in International Relations from the University of Oxford.



The Weaponisation of E-Commerce
Ivana Troselj, PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales, Canberra

This paper is about how the everyday becomes ‘weaponised’. By focusing on e-commerce, I show the ways in which the everyday is weaponised in the online spaces we cohabit. Political actors are using workaday online business tools and spaces designed to provide commercial insights to help target and ‘convert’ consumers to ‘laser-target’ individuals for adverse political purposes. The recent allegations on Facebook and its relationship with Cambridge Analytica shows us that despite the best intentions and risk management an online business may undertake, there is still a very real prospect it may find itself the unwitting partner or conduit of such political activities. This paper argues that online business is vulnerable to Information Warfare activities in a number of ways. However, the existing cyber security scholarship does not reveal a sound appreciation of this risk. Contemporary scholarship focuses narrowly on analyses of technical security and on responses to breach and conflict. I suggest that we need a better understanding of this fragile online space and how states might respond to different forms of security threats emanating from this contested space. In this paper, I introduce some possible methodologies and conceptual frameworks that may be used to assess political risk for online business.

Ivana Troselj is a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales, Canberra. She has a BA with Honours in Securities and Counterterrorism, and English Literature, as well as Postgraduate degree in Business Studies both from Murdoch University. She has previous professional experience with education, arts, publishing, and government.



A Practitioner's Worldview
Emily Chapman, PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales, Canberra  

Researchers are guided by their experiences and philosophical stance - or worldview- when determining a suitable research methodology for their projects. Our worldview has implications on knowledge generation, including influencing data collection and analysis techniques. In this presentation, I will reflect on how my experience in Disaster Response operations has influenced my PhD research methodology which places practitioners, those who had a direct experience, at the centre of the research because they have the greatest knowledge.

In placing practitioners at the centre of data collection on civil-military interaction during disaster response operations, a number of barriers arise - access to communities who have been affected by natural disasters, collecting data from military sources, and gaining ethics clearance to research in other nations. Overcoming these barriers will be discussed to reflect on why it's important to capture practitioners' experience and bridge the gap between knowledge generation and application.

Emily Chapman is a PhD Student at UNSW Canberra researching civil-military interaction during disaster relief operations. She is concurrently a RAAF Reserve Operations Officer with a broad range of international and domestic operational and exercise experience.


A Long Shadow: Strategic Culture and Australian Air Power – Past, Present, Future
Pete Wooding, MA Student, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Air forces do not exist in isolation. Rather, they are measured by their air power effectiveness as an element of national power in meeting national objectives. In this context, this paper explores the Chief of Air Force’s intent that the Royal Australian Air Force must continue to contribute to the provision of the world’s best air power options for Government and Joint Force Commanders. In exploring this theme, it addresses the question of whether Australia’s successful past dependence on ‘great and powerful friends’ remains relevant to the nation’s air power in meeting the challenges of the 21st century. This focus reflects that Australia’s geostrategic interests are being shaped by regional influences that are entering a period of significant change, which necessitates fresh thinking in terms of defence policy and posture. And, as a corollary, has a significant influence on thinking about air power needs, options and effects in going forward. Particularly pertinent in this respect is that the RAAF is arguably at a tipping point with emerging technologies, such as autonomous systems, that will have a fundamental impact on future capabilities. In tackling this question, the paper is underpinned by the idea of strategic cultural as a framework for analysing Australia’s future air power and the delivery of strategic effects.

Pete Wooding is undertaking 2019 Chief of Air Force Fellowship. He has a background in aero- engineering, space systems and operations and is a graduate of the University of Canterbury, RAF College Cranwell, RMC Canada, and the US Air War College. 




The Shadow State and its adverse effect on Development in Post-Colonial African States
Alfred Burimaso, PhD Candidate, Central China Normal University

Strong and inclusive state institutions have been often pointed out as the key factor that makes difference between poverty and prosperity of nations (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2012; North, 1991). It is argued that nations which lack strong, effective and inclusive socio-political and economic institutions languish in poverty while those that managed to build such institutions prosper.  In the context of African States in the post-colonial period, the absence of strong and inclusive institutions remains a serious problem that needs to be constantly brought to the attention of the wider public through analysis that shed some insights onto the origins of the problem, its adverse effects and possible avenues to be explored to find solutions. This paper firstly elaborates on the notion of the ‘shadow state’ and its origins. Then it proceeds to show its negative effects on development in a number of selected African states. Lastly, the paper addresses the issue of possible avenues to be explored to solve the problem from its root causes. The paper ultimately maintains that African states currently stand at a critical juncture with high potential to break the mould and put an end to the vicious cycle to prosper as other parts of the world have done.

Alfred Burimaso is a PhD candidate at the Central China Normal University (CCNU). He is a Burundian political analyst and researcher. He holds a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He majored in Political science and International Relations to obtain a bachelor degree at the same University. His research focuses on Leadership crisis in post-colonial African States. Alfred Burimaso travelled extensively in the East Africa and to some countries in Europe like France and Italy. He speaks fluently, in addition to his mother tongue Kirundi (and similar languages), Kiswahili, English, French and Italian. He was an Assistant Professor in the department of Law, Political Science and International Relations at the Polytechnic University of Gitega in Burundi for three years (2014-2016).