Why 'Containing' ISIS May Make It More Dangerous

Columnist explains why ISIS might be 'lashing out'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2015 1:44 PM CST
Why 'Containing' ISIS May Make It More Dangerous
Elite police officers arrive outside the Bataclan theater in Paris, France, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2015.   (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

When President Obama said, just one day before the Paris terror attacks, that ISIS had been "contained," he wasn't wrong. On Vox, Zack Beauchamp lays out a solid case explaining that the terror group's "march across Syria and Iraq ... has in fact been stalled and in many places even turned back." The problem is, as the Paris attacks devastatingly prove, this isn't necessarily cause for immediate celebration. "As ISIS weakens as a state by losing territory, it may actually become more dangerous as a terrorist organization," Beauchamp writes. Until now, ISIS was mainly focused on attacking targets in the Middle East. But some experts think Paris marks the start of the terror group staging more "dramatic attacks outside its territory—perhaps in part to compensate for its territorial losses."

ISIS recruits a lot of foreigners, including Westerners, and its "narrative of victory" is a big reason why, Beauchamp writes. "It sells itself as the prophesied Islamic caliphate: that its victories are inevitable and divinely inspired. If it's losing territory, then it needs to sell this narrative through other means. That means claiming 'victory' over the West by hitting it with terrorist attacks." And then, of course, there's the possibility that ISIS believes that such attacks are a fitting "punishment" for Western attacks against ISIS. All of this is a scary prospect, as the experts to whom Beauchamp spoke make clear, because ISIS has millions of dollars at its disposal. "We're not talking about al-Qaeda hiding out in Pakistan," warns one. Click for the full piece. (More ISIS stories.)

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