In 1993, former UN weapons inspector David Albright founded the Institute for Science and International Security, or ISIS. Lately, Albright's group — which, ironically, works to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorists — is being threatened by people who confuse it with you-know-who.
As the National Journal reports:
The Institute for Science and International Security is a reasonably small research outfit with a broad focus on global nuclear programs and a full-time staff of about six. Its recent work has been largely focused on Iran's nuclear program, and the group has been looking to get a little extra publicity. But not like this.
The institute has been the target of "ugly tweets due to confusing us with the terrorists," Albright says, including one tweet that suggested that they were the nuclear wing of the Islamic State and should be "stamped out" (to be fair, their account is @ISISNuclear so the confusion is, well, understandable). Albright is worried that someone might mistakenly confuse his staff for terrorists and do something rash.
Albright says he's spent far too much time thinking about the Islamic State and the name dilemma lately, and that "the cost of staff time" lost to learning about and contemplating the Islamic State "is certainly a problem." So Albright is trying to remedy his quandary: by going to different media organizations and asking them to, please, stop calling the Islamic State ISIS.
We at National Journal first heard of the Institute for Science and International Security's plight in an email from Albright this week that urged us to "no longer identify this terrorist group as ISIS." Continuing to label the terrorist group as such, he wrote, "harms my and multiple other organizations' reputations (not mentioning the effect on the many women named Isis) and causes confusion among those just learning about our organization." The Washington Post got a similar message.
By phone, Albright said that he now considers the usage of ISIS possibly as an issue of journalistic accuracy. The terrorist group refers to itself as the Islamic State, not ISIS, Albright points out, and "sees itself as part of a much greater nation" than just Iraq and Syria (the latter IS in ISIS). Plus, he says, "Anglicizing something and making it an acronym is kind of weird." The full Arabic name of the group is al-Dawla al-Islamiya, or the longer al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham.
Albright has been in contact with CNN and other media organizations about using "Islamic State," or "IS," over ISIS. But fortunately for the institute, change may be coming regardless. The Associated Press, the arbiter of so much journalism style, has moved to "Islamic State group." The New York Times is going to IS. So for all of you ISIS's and Isis's out there: Your days of being confused for a terrorist state may nearly be over.
Still, just to play it safe, now might not be the best time to display your vintage Mighty Isis comic books, either.