The wake of the November 2015 and July 2016 terrorist attacks in France brought renewed fears to Americans about the possibility for ISIS' visiting violence and death upon American citizens on U.S. soil. Those fears prompted the social media circulation of a "kill list" of U.S. cities and towns in which ISIS had reportedly announced they were targeting Americans for assassination:
Texas: Abilene, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Wyle, Fort Hood, Bedford, Kileen
Indiana: Michigan City, Bolivar
Michigan: Dearborn Heights, Lake Orion
Connecticut: Barkhamsted, Manchester
Maryland: Upper Marlboro, Warrensburg, Lexington Park
Louisiana: Shreveport, Bossier City
South Carolina: Daniel Island, Charleston
North Carolina: Fayetteville, New Bern
Virginia: Burke, Virginia Beach, Suffolk, Springfield, Norfolk, Chesapeake
Colorado: Colorado Springs
California: Manford, Solvang, San Ardo, Monterrey, Newberry Park, Carlsbad
New Mexico: Farmington
North Dakota: Minot
South Dakota: Rapid City
Florida: Merritt Island, Palm Coast, Saint John, Middleburg, Saint Augustine
Washington: Colton, Cheney, Seattle, Spokane, Ancortes
Illinois: Orland Park
Rhode Island: Newport
Idaho: Bonners Ferry
That list was not news that arose out of the November 2015 or July 2016 attacks in France, however, nor was it specifically a collection of cities ISIS had announced they were targeting for the killing of random Americans. The ISIS "kill list" originated with a report released by ISIS back in March 2015 that contained the names, photographs, and home addresses of more than U.S. Armed Forces personnel around the U.S. and urged ISIS followers and sympathizers in the U.S. to kill those servicemen.
The ISIS "kill list" circulated in November 2015 was therefore not a compendium of U.S. cities which ISIS had recently announced they planned to attack, but rather a several-month-old compilation of all the town and cities in which the U.S. servicemen identified in a March 2015 ISIS report lived. Moreover, ISIS didn't directly threaten that they were intending to kill all the service members named in that March 2015 report; they called upon ISIS supporters already in the U.S. to carry out the deed.
Although the March 2015 ISIS report was treated seriously by the U.S. military and law enforcement at the time it was issued, the Pentagon noted that the list seemed to be more of an ISIS social media scare tactic using information taken from publicly available online sources than an actual threat:
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports the Pentagon spent the weekend notifying the soldiers who appeared on the list, and urged city police departments and military police to increase patrol in the neighborhoods where the targeted live.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) published the list days ago, a report that contained names, photos, and home addresses of U.S. Armed Forces personnel, causing alarm in cities potentially at high-risk.
According to the publication, ISIS urges followers and sympathizers in the U.S. to kill the servicemen. Specific personnel on the list are largely from the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy — branches of the country's military that have conducted massive air strikes against ISIS.
The air strikes have left ISIS mostly defenseless, killing over 8,000 fighters with attacks carried out on more than 5,000 targets. But ISIS appears to be fighting back through forms of social media.
The Pentagon says the the targeted appeared to be compiled from public sources — anything from news articles to Facebook posts that could have linked them to attacks on the terrorist group.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that it doesn't appear any information system was breached. He said it appears the information was taken from social media.
As far as we know, neither ISIS militants nor any ISIS supporters or sympathizers in the U.S. actually killed or attempted to kill any of the persons named in that March 2015 report.
Last updated: 12 June 2016
Originally published: 16 November 2015