Why AP uses ‘ISIL’ instead of ‘ISIS’

Associated Press

The Qaida splinter group rampaging through Iraq is sometimes referred to as ISIS, for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. That translation isn’t quite good enough, AP standards editor Tom Kent writes:

In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The term “al-Sham” refers to Iraq and a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area.

The standard English term for this broad territory is “the Levant.” Therefore, AP’s translation of the group’s name is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

“We believe this is the most accurate translation of the group’s name and reflects its aspirations to rule over a broad swath of the Middle East,” says John Daniszewski, AP vice president and senior managing editor for international news.

Using “Iraq and Syria” gives the incorrect impression that “the group’s aspirations are limited to these two present-day countries,” Kent writes.

Shakir Waheib, a senior member of the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), left, next to a burning police vehicle in Iraq’s Anbar Province. (AP Photo via militant website, File)

Related: Is It ISIS Or ISIL? Jihadist Group Expanding In Iraq Has Two Names, One Goal (International Business Times)

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  • kenezen

    There seems a current movement largely unexplored by the media! And yet, it
    is the most vital news of our times! ‘ISIL”

    There is a combining of the great caliphate that existed from 1200 AD. “The
    Islamic State of Levant” historically included Cyprus, Israel, Jordan,
    Lebanon Syria, Palestine and parts of Southern Turkey. When we add the wealth
    of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE to Sudan, Azerbaijan, Oman. Somalia,
    Afghanistan, and finally Pakistan complete with Nuclear Arms and advanced
    missiles; we come up to a formidable force of world power and wealth! They are
    now consolidating and many western leaders seem compliant and even helpful.

    Not the least of these leaders is our president who has stood off from any
    resistance and instead seems to strongly desirous of assisting this Islamic
    movement wherever possible. Other Western leaders are neutral at best. This
    will be the most formidable armies and other military forces including Nuclear
    ever combined under Sunni/Salifist Muslim Rule!

    One wonders why there isn’t more western journalism investigating this
    evolutionary push with ISIL and all its components. This is a true
    globalization and consolidation few really understand. It is important to also
    learn who is supporting it and who is preparing to confront it if necessary.
    The spread of Sharia is a warning of first goals. That means Europe and
    America. Our president if anything seems to be neutral or even assisting this
    movement rather than being concerned. It is puzzling!

  • RepublicanForHillary

    IT was too close to ISSA…
    ISIS ISSA
    ISIL does not seem to be close to ISSA…

    Jokes started be darrell ISIS…

  • paul3165

    No one uses the term “Levant” anymore.

  • sargeh

    This is typical of AP. it is no wonder that so many newspapers have dropped the AP style book over the years.

  • http://clevesblog.wordpress.com Cleve Callison

    A curious contrarian decision by the AP. The English abbreviation for the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham” would seem to be ISIS, the same as used by others. But no — the AP introduces a Westernized term, Levant (ultimately French for the point of the rising sun) to back up the claim that its usage is more authentic.