The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) disseminated a new hit list of American targets earlier this month, including churchgoers and Jewish worshippers, forcing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to brief religious leaders.
The list, discovered by jihadi monitoring service SITE Intelligence, was published on July 3 among ISIS sympathizers in online forums.
The targets, comprising 1,700 people, has caused concern among the American Jewish community. The security wing of the U.S. Jewish community, the Secure Community Network (SCN) hosted a conference call after its publication between 200 Jewish community leaders and Homeland Security officials.
“The lists appear to be directed toward ‘lone wolf’ ISIL supporters who may be inspired to carry out attacks,” SCN said in a statement, using another acronym for ISIS. “However, there have been no reported incidents to date in which an ISIL-inspired individual has carried out an attack on any individual appearing on these lists.”
In recent months, the group has released a series of hit lists intended to spread fear among the U.S. population. In May, ISIS’s cyber-wing dumped the details of 3,000 New Yorkers, mostly from Brooklyn, forcing the NYPD and FBI to inform all of those included on the list.
It then released the names of 800 members of the Arkansas Library Association, another apparently low-level target whose personal data the group was able to breach and circulate.
Alongside the releases, the group usually publishes orders aimed at lone wolves, rather than organized cells, to target those identified, categorizing any Americans as “crusaders.” The FBI had previously said that making contact with those included on such lists was a routine procedure “in order to sensitize potential victims to the observed threat.”
The inclusion of churchgoers and members of synagogues is not surprising given the radical Islamist group’s treatment of religious minorities in the Middle East, where it has forced thousands of Christians to flee their hometowns, such as Mosul and Raqqa, and enslaved thousands of women, men and children from the Yazidi sect, who it views as devil worshippers.
While obtaining data, for example addresses, phone numbers and names, from such public bodies is a relatively unchallenging task for hackers, the group has also released the details of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of the CIA John Brennan and even a possible future President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, as well as other military, governmental and diplomatic personnel.