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Manchester bombing may show group is losing power despite causing fear, says terrorism expert

May 24, 2017

A Virginia Tech terrorism expert says the fatal concert bombing in Manchester, England, may actually indicate the so-called Islamic State is losing power.

“It is useful to remember that the so-called Islamic State has lost a significant part of their territory in the past couple of years, they have lost revenue and so are financially weaker, and the number of foreign fighters they can recruit is lower,” said Priya Dixit, an assistant professor of political science who studies terrorism and counterterrorism. “So this attack might partly be a reaction to all these changes and could indicate they are actually losing power, and losing authority overall.”

Dixit studies foreign policy, international security, security studies, and terrorism. Read her bio.

Quoting Dixit

On the motivation behind terrorism in general 

“It’s hard to pinpoint just one cause for any particular terrorist action. What is fairly certain, however, is that the so-called Islamic State — which has claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack — wants maximum publicity and wants to be seen as powerful. For that, a ‘soft target’ like a concert in Manchester or in Paris a few years ago, or the truck attack in Nice last year, along with the many attacks on religious institutions in Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, fits in with how they think they can get this attention — this publicity for themselves. It is part of their goal to create anxiety and fear among populations, whether in Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq — where these attacks are happening more often — or in Western Europe.”

On attacking an audience primarily made up of teens

“It is not yet known if this specific concert — with its audience of young people including children — was specifically targeted or if it just happened that this concert occurred the day this attack was scheduled. In any case, seeing images of children lying dead generates fear, and this connects with terrorist groups’ aims of making themselves seem more powerful.”

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