UPDATED: 2:58 p.m. EDT — President Barack Obama addressed the nation Friday from the White House in the wake of the terror attack in Nice, France, that left more than 80 people dead and dozens more injured.
While he announced that "We have come here with heavier hearts than normal," he admitted "we don't know all the details" surrounding the attack. That last statement seemed to imply that the president thought the Islamic State group could be behind the deadly episode.
Despite Thursday night's attack in Nice, "We will keep taking out ISIL leaders," Obama said, using his preferred acronym for the militant group instead of calling it ISIS or Daesh, as other U.S. leaders do.
Obama also pledged to keep "working with Muslim communities to help them push back against hateful ideologies."
Authorities identified Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel as the driver of a truck that sped wildly through throngs of people in Nice who were gathered to watch fireworks in observation of France's national holiday, Bastille Day. Bouhlel was not immediately tied to any extremist groups, but his affiliation to ISIS has not yet been ruled out.
When President Barack Obama delivers his speech of condolence Friday following the terrorist attack a day earlier in Nice, France, that left at least 84 people killed by a man driving a large truck, the words he uses will be watched closely.
Following the rise to international infamy of the Islamic State group in 2014, the president has opted to use a different term than most media outlets and the Republican lawmakers to refer to the group: ISIL. For many, it can be a confusing alternative to ISIS. For the GOP, Obama’s choice of words is a an attempt to keep out the U.S. out of the kind of sticky war he has long been critical of and that Republicans think is necessary to root out the terrorist group.
It’s not clear that the president will name names, though, as even French authorities have not indicated that ISIS is connected to Thursday’s attack. If he does, here’s the thought process behind the word “ISIL.”
Basically, Obama says it for both geographic and grammatical reasons.
The common term, ISIS, stands for the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” while Obama’s term stands for the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” The Levant refers to the entire eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, a bigger geographic area than Syria that encompasses what is considered to be the entire area threatened by the group’s activity.
Also, the group’s Arabic name is al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham and “Levant” is said to be an accurate translation for “al-Sham.”
Other leaders and countries, including the French government, use the word “Daesh.” That word is an acronym for that Arabic name and sounds similar to the Arabic word for “sowers of discord,” which is used to describe enemies of Islam.
As for the avoiding war part, critics say that by excluding Syria from the name, Obama is hoping to keep troops out of the country.