AlertsUSA subscribers will recall that back in July, we warned that ISIS supporters had begun posting names and addresses of U.S. military personnel on Twitter. Then in August, we warned subscribers that their tactic had changed and instead of posting information on single individuals, ISIS posted a spreadsheet w/ names, locations, email addresses and other information for 1400 members of the U.S. military, U.S. government employees, members of law enforcement and others, along with a message urging Islamic State followers and supporters to “act and kill” those appearing on the list. As a reminder, those on the hit list included members of the Marine Corps, Air Force, NASA, the State Department, FBI, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as numerous foreign service members and other government officials.
Which brings us to this week. On Tuesday AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via SMS messages to their mobile devices regarding a new twist to this ISIS tactic. In addition to posting the address of Robert O'Neill, the U.S. Navy SEAL who killed Osama Bin Laden along with a call for Islamic extremists in the U.S. to execute him, they have now begun posting personally identifying information about the *children* of individuals appearing on the hit list published last month (EXAMPLE). And most of this information is being drawn from publicly available social media accounts. It is believed the source of the most recent posts is British jihadist Sally Jones (a.k.a. Umm Hussain al-Britani). For clarity, AlertsUSA was notified of this new practice by a private monitoring group with whom we are partnered.
MINIMIZE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FOOTPRINT
AlertsUSA cautions readers that while Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Vine, Instagram, selfies, commentary videos on YouTube and so many more aspects of social media are exploding in popularity, and in particular, with our children, it must be understood that such openness comes with a price. Unlike grown adults, teens do not have the perspective and life experience to understand the pitfalls and dangers of plastering themselves and their daily activities all over the net.
Given the growing threats facing our children, families, communities and nation, it is essential that parents begin to reign in and place controls on their children's, and their own, social media footprint. This is particularly important if you are member of, or employed by, the armed services, the defense industry, the intelligence community or law enforcement. These are the arenas that are being overtly targeted by terrorist organizations, foreign intelligence services and others. This is particularly important if you were amongst the 21+ million individuals whose personal information was stolen in the recent data breach at the U.S. Office of
Personnel Management (see this, this and this). You would do well pull in the loose ends and minimize the amount of information you and the family are sharing about yourselves and each other online. Yes, It really does matter.
OCTOBER TERROR THREAT SNAPSHOT
This week the House Homeland Security Committee released October’s Terror Threat Snapshot, which outlines the increasing threat to the U.S. and its Western allies from ISIS and other Islamist terror groups.
Amongst the key findings in the report,
(1) Concerted efforts to stem the flow of Americans and others traveling to join jihadists overseas have largely failed.
(2) The risk of Islamist terrorists exploiting refugee and migrant flows to travel freely and plot attacks in
the West remains high. The Obama Administration has proposed dramatically increasing the resettlement of refugees, from 1,600 already here to at least 10,000 more this fiscal year.
(3) ISIS’s global campaign has fueled attacks against Western targets at an unprecedented pace. As of early October, the group has inspired or directed 61 terror attack plots against Western targets, including 17 in the United States. There have been more than twice as many ISIS - linked attack plots against Western targets in 2015 (41) than in 2014 (20).
(4) The homegrown Islamist extremist threat in the United States has escalated dramatically this year. There have been more U.S. -based jihadist terror cases in 2015 than in any full year since 9/11.
(5) The number of U.S. terrorist cases involving homegrown Islamist extremists has gone from 38 in July 2010 to 127 today — more than a three-fold increase in just five years.
The findings of this report were backed up by our nation's intelligence chiefs this week in testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, within which FBI Director James Comey indicates that the Bureau tracked dozens of potential militants around the United States full time over the summer and disrupted activities pursued by many of them. He also revealed that U.S.-based Islamic militant suspects are now using encrypted methods of communicating with the Islamic State.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY
AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS
Full Committee Hearing:
Threats to the Homeland
(Video and Written Testimony)
AlertsUSA continues to closely monitor the growing terror threat to the United States and will immediately notify service subscribers of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any other changes in the overall threat environment as events warrant.