Sunday, March 22, 2015

Group claiming to represent ISIS "names names" and addresses of soldiers online, a form of asymmetric warfare


A group that claims to represent ISIL has “published” (on an offshore location) a "hit list" comprising about 100 of the names and homes addresses of active duty US military, according to major news media, such as NBC (here )  Apparently the story originated with Reuters.
  
Similar claims had been made last autumn, and included civilian journalists.  However, this time the information is reported to be more specific.
  
It would not require hacking to get the information, which is sold by data banks like “Been Verified” and “Instant Checkmate”, which in turn have acquired the data from public records.
  
The US military has allowed reporters to identify some soldiers in operations, possibly compromising them.  It’s likely that this practice will change, and it will be harder to get detailed reporting on overseas strikes.  All branches of the services are contacting the servicemembers and families involved and launching criminal investigations.  Most of the specific  servicemembers are probably currently deployed now.  The open and "gatekeeper-less" nature of the Internet adds a new element to asymmetric warfare. 
     
Depending on wording and circumstances, the publication of such a list on the web (with imputed instructions to would-be “lone wolves”) would probably be viewed legally (under US federal law) as a conspiracy or threat and not be protected by the First Amendment.  But legal fine tuning would be needed to separate from “fantasy” postings, discussed on my main blog March 21. 
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Military personnel, even at a senior level, live both on and off base.  Most bases admit occasional non-employee civilian visitors with proper identification for legitimate purposes, for example visiting on-base museums.  This practice could change.  

The "personalization" of asymmetric warfare and psychological conflict is not new.  A good example is the mentality behind the younger Tsarnaev's engravings on the boat before he was apprehended. This kind if thinking was sometimes found on the radical Left when I was coming of age.  Soldiers in Vietnam and DOD workers were viewed as personally "complicit" in the minds of some.  

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