AP EXPLAINS: Is it IS, ISIS or ISIL, and what's a Daesh?

CAIRO (AP) — The Islamic State's gruesome rampage across the Middle East has united the world in horror yet left it divided over how to pertain to the extremist group, with observers adopting different acronyms based on their translation of an archaic geographical term & the extent to which they want to needle the extremists. Here's a brief explanation of the militant group's various names:


The group traces its roots back to Al-Qaida in Iraq, which declared an Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006. The name never really caught on, however, because the militants were never able to seize & hold significant territory. That began to alter when the group expanded into neighboring Syria, exploiting the chaos of its civil war. In 2013, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, renamed it the Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham, signaling its emergence as a transnational force while sowing the first seeds of confusion over what to call it. Al-Sham is an archaic word for a vaguely defined territory that includes what is now Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories & Jordan. It is most often translated as either Syria — in the sense of a greater Syria that no longer exists — or as the Levant, the closest English term for the territory it describes. In English, the group therefore came to be known as the Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham (ISIS), the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (also ISIS), or the Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant (ISIL).


Those opposed to the group turned the Arabic acronym corresponding to ISIS into a single word — Daesh — which doesn't mean anything yet sounds a little ridiculous. IS' opponents, including public officials like French President Francois Hollande & U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, have used the term to mock, condemn or diminish the group. Dawaesh, a plural form of the word that sounds even sillier in Arabic, is widely used in the Middle East. IS bans the use of the term Daesh in areas it controls. But Arabic speakers have found other ways to put down the group. After the IS group's bitter falling out with al-Qaida in 2013, al-Qaida supporters began referring to it as "al-Baghdadi's group," emphasizing their view of him as a renegade. Syrians living under IS rule often pertain to it as "al-tanzeem," Arabic for "the organization."


When the IS group seized vast parts of northern & western Iraq in the summer of 2014, it declared a caliphate in the territories under its control & dropped Iraq & al-Sham from its name. Today the Sunni militant group refers to itself as the Islamic State, or simply The Caliphate. It refers to its affiliates in Libya, Egypt & elsewhere as "provinces." The Associated Press refers to it as the Islamic State group — to distinguish it from an internationally recognized state — or IS for short.


Follow Joseph Krauss on Twitter at www.twitter.com/josephkrauss

Religion & BeliefsPolitics & GovernmentIslamic State

Source: “Associated Press”

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