Julie didn’t draw Muhammad. Julie didn’t invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Julie didn’t establish a Jewish state in land that Muslims think is theirs. Julie didn’t refuse to assimilate Muslims. Julie didn’t keep Muslims in poverty. Julie didn’t do anything to provoke the Islamic State. But she is on the Islamic State hit list nevertheless. Why? Because the Islamic State means to kill or subjugate every non-Muslim, and in service of that goal, they want to “strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (Qur’an 8:60).
On Sunday, Julie got the weirdest voicemail.
“Good afternoon, this is Special Agent [name removed] with the FBI,” said the voice. “Please give me a call back regarding information of yours that might have leaked via a social media portal on an ISIS platform.”
The 35-year-old Brooklyn resident, who runs her own dog-walking business, panicked as she heard the FBI agent’s voice on her phone.
“There’s no specific or credible threat at this time,” the agent said, “but please give me a call back so that I can brief you on the appropriate details.”
Julie, who preferred that her last name not be used, shared the voicemail with the Daily Dot. She said that, at first, she thought it might be a prank—or a scam possibly involving a faux Nigerian prince.
It turned out to be very real.
The FBI agent’s call was just one of thousands that will be placed in the coming days, as the law-enforcement agency tries to track down and warn all 3,600 New Yorkers whose names and addresses were discovered on the latest ‘hit list’ shared by the Islamic State-allied hacking group United Cyber Caliphate last week.
If the Cyber Caliphate sounds familiar, it’s because the group—or one with the same name—took responsibility for hacking the YouTube and Twitter accounts of U.S. Central Command in January 2015.
The list was shared in a thread on Telegram, an encrypted social media platform popular among ISIS supporters. On Friday, the Daily Dot viewed several active jihadi Telegram channels where users posted graphic videos and ISIS brags. While the German app company behind Telegram has previously tried to wipe the platform free of ISIS channels, it does not appear to have worked.
While real, everyday New Yorkers were disturbed to discover that their names and addresses were targeted, such hit lists have become a frequent occurrence on Telegram. And despite warnings of cyber jihad, it doesn’t take much hacking skill to compile a list of 3,600 random New York City residents….