Stephen Writes

Novels and Short Stories by Stephen England

The Secret Agenda Behind Obama’s Use of “ISIL”. . .Not So Fast

Posted By on September 8, 2014



ISIS/ISIL. . .these terms, both standing for the recently christened (pun intended) Islamic State, have flooded the media for months, and have recently proved to be yet another source of controversy for the Obama administration within the conservative blogosphere.

The conspiracy theory, which has been circulating for the best part of two months but gained fresh fuel late last month in the form of a blog post from Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret.), is essentially this: That President Obama is using the term ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) rather than ISIS (inaccurately translated by West and others as The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in a deliberate effort to legitimize the claims of the group to the entire region and more particularly deny the existence of the state of Israel.

On the very face of it, this seems to stretch plausibility. . .since when has using the proper name of a group denoted agreement with their claims? I and others whose attention is focused on the Middle East routinely reference Hizballah, the “Party of God”, without ever suspecting that we would be accused of believing that the terrorist group has anything to do with God. But while President Obama and those of his administration have done much that is worthy of criticism, this is one instance in which they simply can’t seem to catch a break.

You see, the conspiracy theory West and others have been promulgating relies upon one simple, easily-disproven premise. . .that the final “IS” in ISIS refers only to Iraq and Syria, not the broader region. The reality is more complex–and less conducive to the type of clickbait “journalism” so beloved of the blogosphere.

The Arabic name of the group is al-Dawla al-Islamiyyah fi al-Iraq w al-Sham, abbreviated in a derogatory manner by their Arab opponents as DAESH or occasionally DAIISH. But to our parsing of the name itself. . .”al-Dawla al-Islamiyyah” references “the Islamic State” and even someone with zero knowledge of Arabic can clearly see the reference to Iraq. The controversy arises when one comes to “al-Sham“, which Allen West would have you believe stands for “Syria”, the final “S” in “ISIS.”

However, it doesn’t–or at least not Syria in the way we think of it as Westerners today. The Arabic term for the nation of Syria–which itself only dates back to the French Mandate of 1920–is “al-Suriya“, not “al-Sham“, which refers rather to the area known historically as “Greater Syria”, a region stretching from the shores of the Mediterranean in the west to the banks of the Euphrates in the east, south to the border of the Arabian Desert, and north to the Taurus Mountains of modern-day Turkey.

An area long referred to in Western literature as–wait for it. . .the Levant. So you see, whether one uses ISIS–correctly defined as “The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham”–like much of the Western media, or the administration’s choice of ISIL, “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”, you are referencing precisely the same geographical area. An area which does, in fact, encompass the nation of Israel. . .what, you’re surprised that an Islamic terrorist group would refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Jewish state in their name? What rock have you been living under for the last six decades?

But as noted earlier, the use of the correct name for a group does not denote, to any rational person, agreement with the ideology expressed therein. And it would be dangerous in the extreme to minimize the Islamist goals by using, as West did in his piece, a mistranslated name which would suggest to the casual reader that the group’s ambitions are confined to the nations of Iraq and Syria.

In short, while ISIS and ISIL are functionally identical, “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” is the single most accurate pure English translation which can be used–and given the cluttering of search engine results for “ISIS” with everything from Egyptian goddesses to comic book characters–the most rational choice for the administration.

So enough with the magic secret squirrel “coded message to the Islamists” conspiracy nonsense. President Obama’s real message to ISIL is the one he’s broadcasting in the clear–the one that has already resulted in the beheading of two Americans.

It’s: “I have no strategy.”

LODESTONE: Upcoming Release

Posted By on August 21, 2014


Enjoy an excerpt from the opening of this exciting new novella in the Shadow Warriors series, coming September 19th!

Get signed up for the e-mail list to get it first!

10:23 P.M. Local Time, July 23rd, 2006

The sky over Lebanon


            Deceleration. The MT1-XX parachute billowed open in the night sky above him, snapping his shoulders back against the harness and pulling him out of freefall.

Over six years at this game. . .and he still didn’t like the idea of jumping out of a fully-functional aircraft. He glanced down at the earth, nearly twenty-five thousand feet below him, remembering the words of his first jumpmaster at Benning.

“Earth’s a big place. . .so don’t worry, son. You’re not gonna miss.”

  Right. He glanced up and to his left, catching a brief glimpse of the two members of his team, their chutes deployed against the night.

He’d led the stick off the ramp of the C-130 only moments before, but already the roar of the plane’s massive Allison turboprops had faded away, leaving only the sound of the air streaming past his helmet.

An FN-FAL battle rifle was strapped to his leg with paracord, its weight reminding him of their purpose. The reason for this jump.

Forty minutes till landing. Another twenty, maybe twenty-five till they were on the target.

Might as well enjoy the ride.

Available NOW–TALISMAN, A Shadow Warriors Short Story

Posted By on March 19, 2014


Available now. . .TALISMAN, a new Shadow Warriors short story.

“We are going to find the people who did this to our country. And we are going to see them burn.”

With America still reeling from the largest terrorist attacks to strike the homeland since 9/11, a Clandestine Service strike team is dispatched to the Mediterranean to target the man responsible for financing the plot—Saudi Prince Yusuf ibn Talib al-Harbi. Codename: TALISMAN.

For CIA paramilitary operations officer Jack “Tex” Richards, his orders couldn’t have been more straightforward: by the time the sun rises once more over Monaco, TALISMAN will be dead. The plan is simple enough.

But as darkness falls, as the mission starts to fall apart, as the life of an American college student becomes inextricably linked with that of the prince, one truth is self-evident: there is no such thing as a clean kill. . .

Lone Survivor: A Review

Posted By on January 10, 2014

I saw Lone Survivor last night, and it is, in my opinion, a great film and an incredible tribute to the men who died that day.

While I won’t get into spoilers, suffice it to say that it is a heart-wrenching movie from start to finish, driven home at the end by a montage of family pictures and video of the fallen. The brutal reality that this. . .was real.

In speaking of reality, it is important to note that Lone Survivor is not a documentary but a dramatization of the events of that day–and anyone who has read Luttrell’s book(upon which the film was based) will quickly recognize the deviations. Having seen it, however, I don’t feel that the artistic license taken detracts from the bravery and sincerity of the portrayal.  Director Peter Berg and his cast truly did a tremendous job of bringing this story to the screen.

I do highly recommend reading the true story of Operation Red Wings before you go–it will deepen your appreciation for what you see and fill in gaps left by the film’s narrative.

It is important, in conclusion, not to view this film as entertainment. This isn’t another action movie, but a tribute to men who lived–and died–as brothers.

And as Lone Survivor opens across the country today, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families and comrades of the fallen as they contend with the memories this film brings once again to the fore. May God bless you all for what you have sacrificed.

Special CYBER MONDAY Deals!

Posted By on December 2, 2013

ANNOUNCEMENT: As a special ‪#‎CyberMonday‬ deal, I’m offering a 25% discount on the SIGNED copies of both Day of Reckoning and Pandora’s Grave purchased through my website, great Christmas gifts for the thriller fan on your list.

From now through tomorrow night. . .get them while supplies last. Please note: the signed paperbacks of Day of Reckoning will NOT be discounted again before Christmas. This is a one-day deal.

Also tomorrow, the Kindle edition of Pandora’s Grave is discounted to only $0.99. If you’re giving a Kindle this Christmas, load it up tomorrow with the three volumes of the Shadow Warriors series: NIGHTSHADE, Pandora’s Grave, and Day of Reckoning, all for under $6!

And the Books for Heroes Event is a Wrap!

Posted By on September 16, 2013


And the Books for Heroes event is now officially over, with a total of $225 raised from sales of Day of Reckoning since the event launched on the 8th of September.

In addition, I will be donating $100 to the Foundation–and my fellow thriller novelists Steve Konkoly and R.E. McDermott have generously joined the effort with matching donations.

All told, it’s been a great week–my thanks to everyone who participated and helped spread the word!


Two 9/11s

Posted By on September 11, 2013

I remember the first as if it were yesterday, walking out into the crisp perfection of that September morning, finding myself angry at the very beauty of it.

An eleven-year-old kid, furious that the heavens themselves did not weep for the lives lost that day. Asking as so many did, “Why?”

And I remember last year, penning a blog post in remembrance of that very day. . .when the reports began to come across the wires. We’d been attacked again–this time on the sovereign ground of a United States consulate. An ambassador murdered, for the first time in decades. Navy SEALs killed defending him–men who weren’t even supposed to be there. But they’d done what Americans have always done through the years. . .they’d run toward the sound of the guns. And gone down fighting.

But this time–the world didn’t stop turning. And as I sit here today, a year later, a mention of Benghazi–of Glen Doherty, of Tyrone Woods, of Christopher Stevens, brings little but a blank look to the faces of most Americans.

And again, I find myself asking, “Why?” and with no less anger than I did on that first September morning. Because this time there was no response–no vengeance to be had. The American giant was not even roused from slumber, let alone awoken.

But never forget this. . .so long as you live. There were two 9/11s. And one remains unpaid.

Pandora’s Grave on SALE–99 Cents!

Posted By on September 6, 2013


From now through Sunday, in celebration of the release of Day of Reckoning,  the Kindle edition of Pandora’s Grave–the first novel of the Shadow Warriors series–will be made available at the bargain price of 99 cents! An action-packed thriller that for seven months held position as Amazon’s #1 Top-Rated spy story, Pandora’s Grave hasn’t been offered at a price this low since January of 2011. Get a copy now. . .and tell your friends!

As part of this promotion, Pandora’s Grave is being featured on Kindle Books & Tips. For bargain reads, head on over.

Day of Reckoning Order(Signed Edition)

Posted By on August 27, 2013

The book is out & the signed edition of Day of Reckoning is available for order!


To order a copy of the print edition, personally signed by the author, please click the “Buy Now” button below left:
(Copies will be inscribed to the buyer unless otherwise specified)

Books For Heroes Event Update

Posted By on July 29, 2013

In March, I made the announcement that I would be running a fundraising event for George Scott and the Books for Heroes Foundation surrounding the upcoming release of my third novel, Day of Reckoning—the second full-length novel of the Shadow Warriors series.

The months since that post have been filled with work, finishing up the book and editing it–preparing for it for release, which will take place on August 30th, as announced Saturday in this video trailer.

The fundraising event for Books for Heroes will begin at dawn September 8th and run through the morning of the 15th. During that week, $1 from every e-book of Day of Reckoning (and $2 from every paperback) sold will go to the Books for Heroes Foundation, raising money to send books overseas to our military, and those in VA hospitals stateside. It is my goal to raise a minimum of $1,000 for the foundation–and to that end I am pulling together a network of other authors, bloggers, etc. to help make this event go viral.

If you would be willing to help our veterans and publicize this event(by posting on your website, Facebook, Twitter, simply sharing a graphic or e-mailing your friends), please contact me at

For more information on the Books for Heroes Foundation, please read my original post here:  Upcoming Partnership.