- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2014

For the news media, tracking terrorism demands accuracy and consistency lest the public get confused. From The Associated Press, which rules on journalistic grammar - or the lack thereof - comes news that “ISIL” rather than “ISIS” is the best term for the al Qaeda splinter group leading Sunni militants in Iraq.

“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 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,” says Tom Kent, AP standards editor.

“The term ISIL also avoids the common misunderstanding, stemming from the initials ISIS, that the group’s name is the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.’ ” Mr. Kent says, noting that “Iraq and Greater Syria” is acceptable. “But saying just ‘Iraq and Syria’ suggests incorrectly that the group’s aspirations are limited to these two present-day countries.”

“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 AP vice president John Daniszewski.

News organizations currently use both designations; the United Nation opts for ISIL.

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