Are ISIS & Daesh The Same Thing? The Militant Group's Name Changes Depending On Who You Ask
The term ISIS has been thrown around a lot in the last several months, with increased intensity since the Paris terror attacks on Friday for which the group is taking credit. But other names have been attributed to the terrorist organization — ISIL, the Islamic State, and most recently, Daesh. With so many names being said, it's easy to lose track of the proper terminology and how each of the names is related. With the introduction of the new term, it has become unclear if ISIS and Daesh are even the same thing.
Daesh (pronounced like dash), also stylized as Da'ish, is an acronym derived from Dawlat al-Islamiyah f'al-Iraq wa al-Sham, the Arabic translation for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. However, ISIL rejects the acronym because of its similarity to another Arabic word, dahes, which means "sower of discord." The group has publicly threatened to "cut out the tongues" of anyone who uses the term.
Of course, that only encourages foreign leaders to use the term more to refer to the militant group. So far, former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, French president Francois Hollande, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry have all gone on record stating their preference for Daesh as the moniker for the Middle East terrorist group.
There are a couple facets to the argument for the name change. As Abbott pointed out way back in January of this year, "what [ISIL doesn't] like has an instinctive appeal to me." Utilizing rhetoric to which the group is so fervently opposed sends a strong signal of resistance and illegitimacy to ISIS. Additionally, the use of Daesh rather than ISIS or ISIL removes the literal connection to Islam, and the small but significant change could help to soften anti-Islamic sentiment that is proliferating in Western countries at the moment.
As far as the U.S. government is concerned, the use of ISIL was fairly consistent until the aftermath of the attacks in Paris. Since then, President Obama has flip-flopped on the terminology, referring to the group as both Daesh and ISIL during the events of the G20 Summit in Turkey on Sunday and Monday. On the other hand, American media, including sources like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN, nearly unilaterally refers to the group as ISIS.
Daesh is simply another name for ISIL, and given the indications from various world leaders, the newest name might be the one that ends up sticking.