ISIS real name revealed: Expert explains apocalyptic word that's drawing Muslims to terror group's cause

Heavily armed ISIS fighters joined by foreign recruits march on a street in Iraq in a show of strength.Reuters

People in the West have apparently got it all wrong.

The name of the terrorist group that is trying to set the world on fire is not the Islamic State (IS), not the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and not the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) as U.S. President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials prefer to call it.

According to renowned counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka, the terrorist group, before they declared a caliphate, called itself the "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham," which is where its Arabic acronym DAESH comes from, The Christian Post reports.

Gorka said it is the "al-Sham" part of the name that is troubling and the one that's attracting many Muslims in the world to its purported cause.

He said al-Sham connotes a geographic area of the world where "land rises from the sea." In particular, it connotes greater Syria and the Levant, which refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey to Egypt on the eastern Mediterranean, including Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, according to Fox News.

However, Gorka stressed al-Sham has a much "deeper" theological meaning in Islam's eschatology or its version of the End Times.

"Just as in Christian eschatology, the talks of a final period of tribulation or judgment day and a series of battles between the believers and non-believers, Islam has the same," Gorka said.

"Everybody will be resurrected and judged by Allah at the End Times. But prior to that judgment, there will be a series of battles in al-Sham. The pivotal jihad, the last jihad, will occur in this territory," he explained.

Gorka said this is the reason why the jihadist group has been successful in recruiting Muslims from all over the world to come and fight in Iraq and Syria and to carry out terrorist attacks in their own lands.

He said when ISIS announces to the Muslim world, "We are the Islamic State of al-Sham," the group is sending a simple message: "Have you ever wanted to be a jihadi? Have you toyed with the idea of salvation? Guess what? Look where we are — on the site of the final jihad. If you don't come now, you are going to miss guaranteed salvation," Gorka said.

He said this was the message picked up by the Pakistani immigrant in San Bernardino, the Afghan descent in Orlando and the other terrorists who launched their attacks in Paris, Istanbul and Brussels.

Gorka said over 86,000 recruits have joined jihad groups in Iraq and Syria in the last five years, with as many as 36,000 of them coming from outside of Iraq and Syria and as many as 6,000 Westerners.