After an attack by ISIS on Palm Sunday killed at least 45 people at Coptic churches in Egypt, the terror group launched an intense propaganda campaign to defend the bloodshed.
"ISIS is really seeking to justify its actions, not only in the Middle East but also in the West and Asia," said Dr Rickli. Even for some ISIS supporters, the attacks on churches across the Arab world are seen as "crossing a red line."
Dr Rickli attributes the defensive strategy to the group losing ground, especially to other competing groups. "There has always been tremendous competition for jihadis," Dr Rickli told The Independent. "In 2014 you had this constant flow of newcomers in Syria and Iraq and that’s no longer the case, and on top of that they are being attacked by the anti-Isis coalition and suffering lots of casualties."