ISIS or ISIL?

We hear about a terror group known as ISIS almost daily on the news in America today, but you will hear about a terror group known as ISIL from any speech or statement made by the United States State Department. They are obviously the same group, but why the discrepancy? Why must the government (among others) decide to call a terrorist group ISIL while others call them ISIS?

Just to set a background, ISIS stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and ISIL stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Most English-speaking news organizations refer to the group as ISIS, but that’s not necessarily the most accurate title for the terror group.

In Arabic, the group is called Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, which is literally translated “The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham”. Al-Sham is a region that stretches from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt, which includes Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. This region’s English name is the Levant; therefore ISIL would be a more accurate title than ISIS.

However, it must be noted that there is a difference between al-Sham and Bildad al-Sham. Some Arabic scholars claim that al-Sham is used to refer to Syria and Damascus, while Bildad al-Sham is used to refer to the Levant. It is also important to note that “the Levant” is a dated term that would normally be used alongside “Mesopotamia”, and “Greater Syria” is probably a more actuate name for the Levant.

Regardless, neither ISIS nor ISIL is the most accurate name for the group. The Arabic shorthand for ISIL is DAIISH, and if news organizations wanted to be as actuate as possible, DAIISH would probably be the best way to go.

In any event, ISIS, ISIL, or DAIISH is a dangerous terrorist group and America must do everything within its means to make sure that terrorism is not carried out on our homeland.