What drives ISIS's terror attacks- strength or desperation?

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Probably both, believe experts and provide valid reasons for their inference. ISIS has been striking random targets in Paris, USA, Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey, but there is one thing is common between all the places- the air strikes.

Incidentally, ISIS is having a bad time in the home ground. It has lost an important oil refinery in Iraq and a strategically important base in Syria. Moreover, the US ans Kurdish forces have seized control of the Iraqi town of Sinjar from the terror group.


The loss of 2,000 ISIS fighters at Kobani airstrike took a heavy toll on recruitment as the number of foreign fighters dropped from 3,000 to just 50 or 60. Adding to it, the execution of Mohammed Emwazi or "Jihadi John" and Abu Nabil, aka Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi, the leader of ISIS in Libya weakened the foundation of the ISIS in a major way.

Compensation for the losses

For the ISIS, losing a check post is a lot on stake- reputation wise. Now to make the world understand that they are still alive and throbbing with life is a temptation that they cannot resist. The suicide bombers and their dramatic entry into a designated venue, in fact, show the very idea behind the attacks. It is basically a terror tactic to grab the world's attention and instill fear.

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In some cases, as experts in the IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center reveal, the attacks are made to bolster recruitment. Increasing number of attacks means Islamophobia and that means aversion of common man toward the Islamic people.

ISIS thrives on this aversion, as it gives rise to hatred and insecurity as the people think that there can be no other place where they will be respected apart from the ISIS's den. This way, more people will go to Syria and fewer people will leave.

[Read: Istanbul terror attack: Will it dash fresh hopes of Turkey's struggling tourism sector? ]

Similarly, the Paris attack would feed the "clash of civilization" narrative. Intensification of military operation against the ISIS will show them in the sympathetic light. Six of the seven attackers who died in the Nov 13 Paris attack detonated their suicide vests, while one was killed by the police. Confusion prevailed among general public, some even considering the encounter 'inhuman', thus gaining ISIS the sympathy.

Local groups, if not ISIS

The role of local groups in expanding the horizon of terror is also commendable. In order to make their presence felt, these groups indulge in a proxy war where they create terror in the name of ISIS to show how useful they are to them.

"They would push the envelope, doing things that the core of al Qaeda wasn't yet doing. For example, using women, going after [chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear] weapons. That's where we saw a lot of the innovation," said one of the experts.

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Mia Bloom, a terrorism expert at Georgia State University says, "They would push the envelope, doing things that the core of al Qaeda wasn't yet doing. For example, using women, going after [chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear] weapons. That's where we saw a lot of the innovation."

She further addes,"Historical research also indicates that suicide bombings can be used "to project power in a way that masks an underlying weakness."

Certainly, the weakness comes from the fact it has received tactical defeat in Iraq and Syria.

Role of social media

Social media has played a very important role in the recruitment of ISIS members. The reach is wider and the propagation intricate. Just a click away, anyone can access the 'teachings' and the 'ideas' behind the formation of ISIS. The brainwashing is done online, without any trail. In fact, once the candidate is trained, the arrangements for travelling is also made online.

The success of the online campaign is evident in the reach of ISIS in various areas of the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the West.

Jihad is the sole driving force for the ISIS, but more than that it is the inability to cope with failures in the face of increasing applicants to the group. Clearly, the desparation of building up an image has taken over the idea of Jihad.

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