ISIS continues to inflame the international community, recently threatening to carry out a second 9/11 and but analysts say these provocations are meant to be diversions to their followers, as well as Western nations. The reality is that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is actually losing territory.
Clinton Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, says that on the surface "they're still appearing to deliver a success". But the message has shifted slightly and notably
"The story isn't about them losing ground in Iraq, the story is 'ISIS destroys historic sites.' Or 'Now ISIS threatens the U.S.' — meanwhile, they're getting turned back" from cities they captured last summer, he says.
In recent months, coalition forces have evicted ISIS militants from cities such as Kobani, Syria and Tikrit, Iraq.
"If they capture headlines, you get the sense that they're growing their caliphate, but at the moment, they're not growing their caliphate," says Rex Brynen, a political science professor at McGill University.
Boasting about demolishing pre-Islamic antiquities in Iraq and changing the message from bragging about territory captured to inciting supporters around the world to commit terror exhibits all the signs of classic diversionary tactics, used to distract followers from the grim realities on the ground.
While ISIS still poses a significant threat to Western nations its clear they are suffering from the coordinated strikes which have unfolded over the last few months.