Hackers linked to Islamic State (Isis) have released a target list of thousands of ordinary New York residents online, urging followers of the terrorist group to target them. Released by pro-IS group United Cyber Caliphate (UCC), the list was reportedly posted on encrypted messaging app Telegram, with an announcement that says: "We want them #Dead."
According to NBC New York, the target list included the names, home addresses and email addresses of about 3,600 New Yorkers, some of who are US State Department and Department of Homeland Security employees. Most of the names included, however, are ordinary residents. Some of the information also seemed to be outdated, a source, who was not authorised to discuss the investigation publicly, told Reuters. The list was reportedly posted only for a short period of time before it was taken down.
"While our standard practice is to decline comment on specific operational and investigative matters, the FBI routinely notifies individuals and organizations of information collected during the course of an investigation that may be perceived as potentially threatening in nature," FBI spokeswoman Carol Cratty said in a statement. "Potential threats may relate to individuals, institutions, or organizations, and are shared in order to sensitize potential victims to the observed threat, and to assist them in taking proper steps to ensure their safety."
FBI agents and New York City police officers are personally visiting the New Yorkers whose names were mentioned. However, they maintain the list has been used mostly as a scare tactic and there is no immediate threat of violence against the people listed.
"It sounds like psychological warfare," Art, an 88-year-old man who was included in the list, told NBC New York. "Make 3,000 people in this city very upset." When the FBI visited him and told him that his name was included in the target list, Art says they told him to be cautious when he goes out in public and call 911 if he felt threatened.
The latest cyberattack falls in line with increasing efforts by pro-IS groups to step up their digital cyberattack efforts.
Earlier in April, four separate pro-IS cyber groups merged to form the UCC. In 2015, an IS-related cyber group posted a list including the alleged names, addresses and photos of 100 US military service members, calling on followers to target them. Earlier this week, the UCC claimed to have infiltrated the US State Department, releasing what they said was the personal information of 43 employees they wanted killed.
The US recently launched its own full-scale cyber offensive campaign against the terrorist group by dropping, what one official referred to as, "cyberbombs".