IS stands for “Islamic State.” This is ISIS’ preferred name for themselves and the one you might not see as often.
ISIS and Mosul: An Introduction
Pedro Carrion

One of communication techniques used by terrorists is about imposing certain symbols to influence the target audiences’ associations and perceptions. For example, the organisation which has its formal name as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, instead of being called by its acronym ISIL is frequently (today less than in the early days though) referred to in public discourse and in the official documents as Islamic State. No one seems to pay attention to this fact, but that is exactly what they want — to be seen as The State. In contrast with other militant or terrorist groups (most notably, their competitor al-Qaeda) the ISIL not only promotes but also strives to establish and run an “Islamic caliphate”. It is one of central symbols in their ideology and related propaganda. And the attributes of the state, as known from classical definition of Max Weber, include an “exclusive authority to use violence for establishing law and order within its borders.” That’s why we all shall refrain from using “Islamic State” or “IS” acronym and equally, use the phrase “so-called” or “self-proclaimed caliphate” instead of directly saying the “caliphate” — not to subscribe to their propaganda and further (even unintentionally, if not ignorantly) promote their ideological symbolism.

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