To some news outlets—including the big news agencies Reuters, the Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse, as well as al-Jazeera—it’s the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” or ISIL. To others—among them the New York Times—it’s the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (or in some cases “Greater Syria”), or ISIS. Quite a few places write “…the Levant,” but then bizarrely abbreviate it to ISIS (we’re looking at you, Financial Times and Guardian).
Nor is the confusion restricted to English-language media. In French the reigning phrase appears to be l’Etat Islamique en Irak et au Levant (EIIL). But in Spain, El Pais has chosen El Estado Islámico en Irak y el Levante (EIIL), while its rival newspaper El Mundo has gone with Estado Islámico de Irak y Siria, and uses the English acronym ISIS. In Germany, Deutsche Welle uses ISIS in both its English and German versions, but writes out “…the Levant” on its English site and “…und Syrien” on its German one; meanwhile, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit and the Frankfurter Allgemeine have gone with ISIS while Die Welt plumps for ISIL. The BBC Russian service, like much of the Russian media, uses the Russian equivalent of ISIL—whereas the BBC in English spells out “Levant” but then uses ISIS.
I’m still choosing to refer to them as DAIISH. (The group’s name in Arabic is al-dawla al-islamiyye f’il iraq w’al-sham).