Tuesday, September 2, 2014

ISIS Acronym Hurting Think Tank's Reputation

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not have its own think tank as far as we know, but it does share a luckless acronym with a think tank - the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).  And that acronym is causing confusion and possibly harming the think tank's reputation.

Here is more from The Daily Beast:
For some organizations, the emergence of a terrorist group with a similar acronym is a threat to their very existence.
The Institute for Science and International Security is a non-profit group that works on nuclear nonproliferation issues, and the Islamic State could ruin their lives’ work. For example, their Twitter is now continuously receiving messages meant for the terrorist group.
“We’re a non-profit, we’re an NGO. We live off of our visibility, and this really compromises our reputation—not to mention that we work in the national security arena,” said spokeswoman Serena Vergantini. “we’ve never laughed about it.”
In the U.K., the lingerie retailer Ann Summers has chosen the absolute worst time to launch its new line, which is named after the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis. One employee from the company told The Independent that they had just gotten rotten luck, and that the name was finalized months ago. By the time the Islamic ISIS emerged in the news, it was too late to change the name.
Institute for Science and International Security president and former UN arms inspector David Albright said that the ancient goddess, who represented an idealized woman and mother, also inspired his think tank’s name.
Albright’s think tank has reached out to several news organizations, including the Washington Post and New York Times, to ward them off the ISIS acronym, and is planning on reaching out to more.

ISIS (the think tank) was founded in 1993 and is based in Washington, DC.  Here is a list of its board members, and here is a list of its funders.  ISIS was ranked as the 23rd best science and technology think tank in the world by the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Other think tank acronyms besides ISIS often cause confusion.  One example is the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which shares an acronym with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada's primary national intelligence service.

Update: Here is what The Washington Post has to say about the "acronym woes."  They point out that ISIS (the think tank) posted a memo on Tuesday asking people to stop using the acronym ISIS for the jihadist terrorist group.