Fact Check

ISIS Is Recruiting Children in Indiana?

Rumor: ISIS has been recruiting children in Indiana to join a group called 'Daesh.'

Published April 16, 2015


Claim:   ISIS has been recruiting children in Indiana to join a group called 'Daesh.'


Example:   [Collected via Instagram, April 2015]

This 'story' seems very suspicious. I live in this town, and the police department said they have no knowledge of these happenings.


Origins:   One of the (admittedly minor) issues that has vexed the American media and government alike is how to refer to the infamous jihadist/extremist group most commonly known as ISIS (for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant):

Naming the Islamic State has proved a problem for many organizations since the Sunni Islamist extremist group gained traction in Iraq this year. At first, many referred to it as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the acronym ISIS. However, due to differences over how the name should be translated from its Arabic original, the U.S. government and some others referred to them as ISIL.

The group later announced that it should simply be called the "Islamic State" — a reference to the idea that the group was breaking down state borders to form a new caliphate — and many media organizations began to refer to them this way. That in turn led to some complications: Islamic clerics around the world expressed anger at the extremist group being used to portray all of Islam, and requested that it be called by another name (a group of British imams suggested calling it the "Un-Islamic State," arguing that it was "neither Islamic, nor is it a state").

That issue ties in with why it's exceedingly unlikely that real ISIS militants are recruiting children in the heartland of Brownsburg, Indiana (or anywhere else), to join their organization and referring to themselves by their "new preferred name of Daesh": because the real ISIS group reportedly detests that name.

ISIS has been referred to in other parts of the world as elsewhere as Daesh (or Da'ish, DAESH, DAIISH, DAASH, DAIISH, and DAISH), an acronym formed from the transliterated Arabic phrase al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham (which has roughly the same meaning as ISIS). As the Washington Post reported, however, ISIS itself considers that name to be derogatory:

In most Arabic nations the group is generally referred to as Daesh. Some non-Arab countries, including France, have begun using the name, too. "I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters. "The Arabs call it 'Daesh' and I will be calling them the 'Daesh cutthroats.'"

Swapping one acronym for another may not seem like too big a deal. But there's an interesting detail here: According to multiple reports, the Islamic State loathes the name. There have been reports of the Islamic State threatening to cut out the tongues of anyone who used the phrase publicly, perhaps due to the word's similarity to another Arabic word, Das, which means to trample down or crush. The word "Daeshi" is used as an insult by anti-Islamic State groups.

Is ISIS really recruiting pre-teens in Indiana to join a "fun group" called "Daesh"? Almost certainly not (especially given that, as referenced above, local police have heard nothing about any such activity). Perhaps some pranksters are going around town telling kids they're from ISIS as a lark, but we likely need not fear that 11-year-old Hoosiers are being cajoled into taking up arms to fight on the side of Islamic militants.

Last updated:   15 April 2015


    Taylor, Adam.   "‘Daesh': John Kerry Starts Calling the Islamic State a Name They Hate."

    The Washington Post.   5 December 2014.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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