Losing its "caliphate" could lead ISIS to focus more on terror abroad

“The existence of the state is very important to Isis’s global ideological appeal,” said JM Berger, author of Isis: The State of Terror. “Eliminating the state would likely undercut a lot of Isis recruitment and that of some of its branches in other regions.”

The Paris attacks and the bombing of a Russian passenger jet in Sinai came as that territorial expansion stalled and in some places reversed, in the face of pressure from a diverse range of enemies, from Kurdish militias backed by US bombs to Syrian troops with Russian support.

The killings might have been intended as a show of strength, a new recruiting tool for those drawn to horror, or a demonstration that Isis has the ability to punish countries trying to dismantle its rule of terror – even as it puts its “caliphate” in some jeopardy.

The group’s leaders would have known that if the Paris attackers’ plans succeeded, that would bring a greater focus and ferocity to airstrikes and would be likely to increase the flow of weapons and other support to groups that are fighting Isis on the ground.