COVID-19 was a phase of intensification of social strains, in which social inequalities became more evident and institutional responsibilities more apparent. The result was a deep economic recession and growing social discontent, from which loosely organized online circles and offline protests emerged and were frequently co-opted by radical elements targeting democratic governments.
While COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, anti-government sentiment has largely remained, constituting a threat that is adaptable, intersectional, and transnational. This is due to a global increase in the connectivity of groups and individuals from mixed scenes, equally aiming to destabilize or overthrow existing democracies. Due to the oftentimes incoherent and unorganized nature of such an anti-government threat, resilience of harmful actors to traditional prevention and intervention practices have challenged counter-terrorist policies in place.
This project aims to provide the first comprehensive assessment of anti-government threats in the transatlantic space.
Focusing on Germany, Austria, Sweden, the US, and the Netherlands, ICCT experts are making a comparative analysis of existing anti-government groups and individuals and their interactions within these countries and beyond, offline and online. Ultimately, the project will also offer recommendations for counter-terrorism (CT) and prevention and counter-violent extremism (P/CVE) services, at the national and international level.
This project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
About the project
The goal of this research is to assist CT and P/CVE services, especially the German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) staff as well as other German security agencies, in better identifying and tackling anti-governmental threats at the national and international level.
Drawing on open-source research, network analysis conducted by the specialist online monitoring firm Storyzy, and interviews with national practitioners and policymakers, ICCT is producing a cutting-edge comparative report on anti-governmental threats at the national and international level. Specifically, this study will develop an understanding of the anti-government extremist landscape, offer analysis of the anti-government threats in key countries, and identify good practices in existing responses to anti-governmental extremism.
ICCT will organise a closed-door workshop with key figures from German national security architecture to present and validate the preliminary findings of this study. The report will then be made publicly available in English and German to disseminate its insights widely. Finally, ICCT experts will share policy recommendations directly with German stakeholders, delivering targeted and concrete policy support.
As such, this project will produce first-of-kind research that will raise awareness, increase knowledge, provide avenues to the improvement of the capacity of policymakers to respond to the threat of anti-government extremism.