Meet The Nonprofit Group Trying To Get You To Stop Saying “ISIS”

“Use whatever, just not ISIS,” said the founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, also known as…ISIS.

Stringer / Reuters

The Institute for Science and International Security — also known by the acronym ISIS — is really mad that the media keeps using ISIS to refer to the Islamic militant group ravaging parts of Syria and Iraq, despite the fact that the nonprofit claimed the acronym first.

ISIS, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that has worked on nuclear nonproliferation since 1993, has launched a concerted effort to convince journalists and media organizations that they should use anything but ISIS to refer to the terrorist group.

“We’re worried that it will be very confusing for people,” David Albright, the founder of ISIS, told BuzzFeed.

For several weeks, Albright has been reaching out to journalists he knows at news organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post — but to no avail. “They’d be sympathetic, but we weren’t getting anywhere,” Albright said.

Ablright said that his organization has received a barrage of criticism on Twitter from users who think they are tweeting at the terrorist group. In one incident, Albright recalled, a Twitter user accused his institute of being the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” arm of the Islamic militants. If the name becomes so stigmatized, Albright added, he may have trouble discussing his organization’s work as a guest on channels like CNN.

On Tuesday, ISIS the institute released a statement to publicly share its request.

“The widespread, persistent use of the acronym ISIS to refer to this terrorist organization continues to cause considerable confusion and is causing repetitional harm to the many organizations and entities that also use this acronym. The Institute for Science and International Security … would like to urge media and foreign policy analysts to no longer refer to Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham by the name ‘ISIS’ but to choose another alternative.”

Albright offered as an alternative the “Islamic State,” as the terrorist group now calls itself, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), as preferred by the Obama administration. But he stressed that he was not advocating for one particular acronym that could cause another unsuspecting organization controversy.

As ISIS continued its violent march across Syria and Iraq this summer, a number of organizations that use the acronym also faced negative publicity for sharing the same name, the Daily Beast reported last month.

As of now, Albright said that his ISIS is standing strong and not planning to change its name.

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