Project Trace is a three-year (2017-2020) initiative to reinforce the counter-terrorism capacity and expertise in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.
Funded by Global Affairs Canada, the project will equip participants with skills, tools and methodologies needed in order to effectively gather and exploit information from online platforms, including social media, for counter-terrorism investigations.
Supporting all 10 ASEAN member countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), Project Trace targets officers from national counter-terrorism units, intelligence and investigation officers from cyber units, and any other national agencies responsible for investigating and combating the use of Internet for terrorism purposes.
Yearly programme cycles include basic and advanced training sessions, along with table-top exercises based on real-life case studies and scenarios to provide participants with hands-on experience. A common analytical software may be provided as a specialized tool to assist countries in conducting their investigations.
Activities are overseen by a Steering Committee comprising a representative from each participating country. This met in February 2018 and November 2018.
Each year the project will conduct basic and advanced training courses. Hands-on exercises will complement the classroom training.
The first basic training course on countering the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes was held in February and March 2018 in Bangladesh. The first week focused on analytical investigation methods, while during the second week the participants learned how to apply these research methodologies using specialized analytical software.
Participants included 20 officers from cybercrime and counter-terrorism units and INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) of all ASEAN nations.
A second cycle of training began in Siem Reap, Cambodia from 14-18 January 2019. A new group of 23 participants from all 10 ASEAN countries attended the one-week basic training session to counter the use of the Internet for terrorism purposes.
As part of the progressive approach of this Programme, participants who attended the basic session were invited to attend an advanced training session in Hanoi, Vietnam, in July 2018. The course focused on increasing participants’ knowledge of the regional terrorism context and the online radicalization process as well developing their skills to effectively gather and analyze information from online sources, including social media.
Human rights, legal and gender considerations, evidence collection standards and open source and social media investigation techniques formed the curriculum of this week-long session. A series of practical exercises saw participants conducting simulated online investigations in line with law enforcement best practice.
October 2018 saw the conclusion of the Project’s training curriculum on countering the use of the Internet for terrorism purposes.
Attended by 15 participants, the one-week train-the-trainer session was held in Vientiane, Laos.
Participants learned how to properly transfer knowledge to their peers and colleagues and deliver training in line with the Organization’s standards, in order to increase the Project’s reach and sustainability.
The countries represented were Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.