ISIS threats reach American soldiers’ doorsteps
Late Friday night, March 20th, a group claiming affiliation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, released a list of around 100 US soldiers. The majority of the names on the list are servicemen of the Air Force and Navy, branches largely responsible for a series of effective targeted air strikes against ISIS. The self-proclaimed Islamic State Hacking Division stated that the soldiers’ information was obtained by hacking into secure military servers. The list also included pictures and addresses of the soldiers with the expressed intent of having “lone wolf” ISIS sympathizers kill the soldiers where they live, adding, “Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking that they are safe.”
pon a rigorous investigation, the United States Army concluded that the vast majority of the information found in the list could have been obtained from various social networking sites, and the alleged hack may never have taken place, but takes the threat of violence seriously regardless. A week after the “kill list” was posted, and taken down, the Army issued a “security awareness message” to all American military personnel listing precautions to take regarding the threat. Among the list were several tips on using social networking more responsibly, such as assuming “everyone in the world will be able to see what you are posting or Tweeting, even if the site limits your posts to your friends and family.” The Army also listed several tips for safety in the home. “Use the peephole before opening the door to anyone,” they advise. “Install solid-core doors, heavy duty locks and window security systems (and) establish a safe haven.”
Amid the realization of the part played by social networking, many military families are scrambling to erase themselves from the web. According to CNN, one unnamed military wife deleted every picture and mention of her children from her Facebook page and removed a military decal off the front window of her car. Others are even reportedly avoiding openly transporting military uniforms from the dry cleaners to their cars.
For some, this desire for anonymity has been around for a while. In January, Al Qaeda took credit for murders in Paris. In October of last year a series of simultaneous shootings in and around the Canadian Parliament were linked to ISIS. In September of the same year an attempted kidnapping and beheading was prevented in Australia. All the way back in May 2013 a British soldier was murdered by two extremists in London. After hearing all of that, and with shootings like Sandy Hook Elementary in recent memory, the fear that ISIS might attack, or persuade someone to attack, US soldiers on US soil doesn’t seem too farfetched to be taken seriously. The Pentagon has asked the cities home to soldiers on the list to up the security in the soldiers’ neighborhoods. They also notified each soldier of their presence on the list.
Many people agree that a large part of terrorists' tactics is in the name: the spreading of terror, using scare tactics, fear, to make us so concerned with watching our backs that we never have a chance to look forward. The difficult part is in the balance. How much do we fear? How much do we prepare for and adapt to? And how much do we stay the same?
Kevin is a sophomore pursuing general studies.