The response from the Defense Department is just as stunning as the publication of this hit list. A spokesman for Defense attempts to downplay the seriousness of this hit list by saying that "most of the information could be found in public records, residential address search sites and social media."
That's not the point at all, Mr. Spokesman. This hit list of 100 military personnel is brand new -- and it specifically tells jihadists in this country to kill the people on the list. The question is, what is our Department of Defense going to do about it?
By John Hayward
The latest online threat from ISIS is a list of one hundred U.S. military personnel, with instructions for “our brothers residing in America” to hunt them down and “deal” with them. The listings include names, photographs, and other information.
According to the New York Post, the original website that published the list has been taken down, but it has been spread through social media and hosted on numerous mirror websites.
Although ISIS wanted to make it look like their team of hackers extracted this information from secure American military systems, the New York Times quotes a Defense Department official saying “most of the information could be found in public records, residential address search sites and social media.”
Contrary to the terrorists’ assertion that it was targeting officers who waged war against ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen (which the Islamic State apparently considers its turf now), many of the personnel on the list had nothing to do with operations in those theaters. The Islamic State chose them because they appeared in news reports and public Defense Department documents, and there was enough readily available online information about them to cobble together convincing “dossiers” of the targets. Analysts quoted in several media sources said they thought ISIS put the list together primarily to enhance its reputation for aggression and technical savvy.
“With the huge amount of data we have from various different servers and databases, we have decided to leak 100 addresses so that our brothers in America can deal with you,” the New York Times quotes the declaration from the purported Hacking Division of the Islamic State. “And now we have made it easy for you by giving you addresses, all you need to do is take the final step, so what are you waiting for?”
International Business Times reports the U.S. military “issued a statement Sunday urging its personnel to maintain ‘vigilance'” against the potential threat from ISIS’ kill list. Marine Corps spokesman Lt. Col. John Caldwell advised his personnel to “check their online/social footprint, ensuring privacy settings are adjusted to limit the amount of available personal information.”
In a report on 41 Navy and Marine Corps personnel included on the list, U-T San Diego says that “officers from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service were notifying people included on the list over the weekend.” While the Navy has always advised its personnel to be careful with their social media activity, at the time of this writing it was not recommending any extra personal security precautions due to the Islamic State’s activity. Nevertheless, U-T San Diego followed up with several service members named on the list, and found that they appeared to be taking steps such as disabling their social media accounts.
Navy ships with crew mentioned on the ISIS list include the aircraft carriers Carl Vinson, George H.W. Bush, and Theodore Roosevelt, and the destroyers Arleigh Burke and O’Kane.