FBI to personally visit 3,000 New Yorkers targeted on an ISIS hit list

© Mike Blake
FBI and NYPD officials are personally visiting an estimated 3,000 New Yorkers whose names were targeted on an Islamic State-linked online forum. The names appear to have been hacked in Syria, with some compiled from university and alumni related websites.

The personal information of the New Yorkers appeared online Thursday with a note announcing, “We Want them #Dead,” according to WNBC.

The data was posted only briefly on a channel accessible only by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), before being taken down.

“What these guys are really trying to do is gain a lot of notoriety by saying we hacked American servers,” said NBC’s terror analyst Laith Alkhouri, adding that the list was only posted for a short time publicly, because leaving it up longer would make them easier for law enforcement to track.

The majority of people listed live in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, but those targeted did not appear to be politically active or affiliated with the government.

The FBI and NYPD said they will be reaching out to let people know they have been threatened in the online forum.

“While our standard practice is to decline to comment on specific operational and investigative matters, the FBI routinely notifies individual and organizations of information collected during the course of an investigation that may be perceived as potentially threatening in nature,” said an FBI spokeswoman, Carol Cratty, in a statement.

One of the targets, Melissa, a writer who lives in Brooklyn, told WNBC, “I need more information before I am going to allow myself to be fearful or take action,” adding that she was actually more worried about the wave of anti-Muslim behavior in the US.

Another New Yorker, Art, an 88-year-old retiree, said he was visited by the FBI and when asked about appearing on the hit list said, “Who am I? What am I doing on this list?”

The FBI told him to be careful when he goes out in public and to call authorities if he was concerned about his safety.

“It sounds like psychological warfare,” Art told WNBC. “Make 3,000 people in this city very upset.”

This is not the first cyberattack by hackers with links to IS. In March, the information of 55 New Jersey transit police officers was cited in Twitter posts. The tweets also referred to a previous hack of the US Department of Defense.

It is not clear where the information in this latest attack was hacked from, although one source told WNBC some names may have been compiled from university and alumni related websites.

WNBC’s Alkhouri said so far the attacks are not sophisticated, but “These guys are trying to advance their capability, they’re trying to advance their skill set, and they’re trying to zoom in on more critical targets.”