ISIS, ISIL,Islamic State, etc.

I got a few questions and comments after the post earlier this week asking about President Obama:

Why does he persist in calling it “ISIL”?


Once again, let’s answer the question: what’s the difference among all those names?


The International Business Times has the best recap that I could find on the nuanced differences between the terms …

Islamic State: This is the English version of what the terror group calls itself. It also claims to be a caliphate, which is a state ruled by a caliph, which is Arabic for “successor,” meaning successor to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. The last generally acknowledged Muslim caliphate was the Ottoman Empire, which ended in 1923. Many governments and media refuse to use this name because it gives the group legitimacy as a state and a representative of Islam.

ISIS: The militant group, which began as the Iraqi branch of al Qaeda during the U.S. occupation, gained this name after it invaded Syria in 2013. ISIS is short for “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” or “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham,” which is an old Arabic term for the area.

ISIL: ISIL translates to “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” The Levant is a geographical term that refers to the eastern shore of the Mediterranean — Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Jordan. It’s the term that some government officials use since the “Levant” is apparently a better translation for al-Sham, the Arabic name for the region -– and to avoid elevating Syria to prominence in the name

Daesh: This is a term the militant group hates. French President François Hollande (and Secretary Kerry) have used it since the Paris attacks. It’s an Arabic acronym for “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham.” It can sometimes be spelled DAIISH, Da’esh or Daech, a popular French version. The hacktivist group Anonymous and President Barack Obama have used the term since the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.


Bottom line: It’s still my opinion that Obama uses “ISIL”, not to clarify, but to feign intellectual superiority.  Everybody else (who doesn’t work for Obama) calls it ISIS.



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