A top US general in charge of US operations against ISIS in Iraq has started calling the militants by a derogatory name that the group despises.
At a press conference on Thursday, Lieutenant General James Terry used the name “Daesh” almost exclusively while discussing ISIS.
Terry said he had began to use the term Daesh instead of ISIS at the request of Middle Eastern partners in the anti-ISIS coalition who wished to draw a sharp line between the group and Islam.
Terry’s decision to call the group Daesh follows a general trend towards addressing ISIS by the name that the groups views as highly pejorative. Within the past few weeks Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot has taken to calling the group by Daesh, as has US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Daesh hates being referred to by this term, and what they don’t like has an instinctive appeal to me,” Abbott said.
Daesh is an acronym for the Arabic version of ISIS’s name: al-Dawla al-Islamyia fil Iraq wa’al Sham. ISIS supporters take offence at the name as the abbreviation crucially leaves out the Islamic portion of the name.
Likewise, according to The Guardian’s Ian Black, the Daesh acronym “entered the ever-adaptive Arabic language big time: in the plural form — ‘daw’aish’ — it means bigots who impose their views on others.”
As could be expected, ISIS has responded to the use of Daesh in its territories in predictably brutal methods. The militants’ leaders have threatened “to cut out the tongues” of anyone caught using the term Daesh.
The US-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against ISIS since August. The coalition has carried out 31 strikes since Jan. 21 against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.
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