Fact Check

ISIS to Slaughter U.S. Military at Home?

Rumor: ISIS operatives plan to slaughter American troops at their houses after finding the addresses of military servicemen online.

Published Sept. 19, 2014


Claim:   A recently uncovered ISIS plot suggests that the group has plans to seek and slaughter American servicemen after finding their home addresses online.


Example:   [Collected via email, September 2014]

Urgent news: isis calls on muslims in America to go to homes of US Soldiers and slaughter
them. True or false info contained in the article?


Origins:   On or around 18 September 2014, a warning began to circulate concerning ISIS and the safety of American troops at home. According to the "urgent" message, recently uncovered chatter suggested that the terror group had imminent plans to find and "slaughter" U.S. military personnel at their houses, using information readily found online to locate the servicemembers.

The warning spread rapidly on Facebook, due in part to the appearance of its being a brand new concern. Posts such as the one below were circulated widely, prompting a bit of panic on social media sites:

According to the post linked above, ISIS operatives discussed a plan to "show up and slaughter [U.S. troops]" at their houses, organizations ...

issuing "a continued call ... by Western fighters in Syria and terrorist for lone offender attacks against U.S. military facilities and personnel."

Immediately afterwards, however, the post noted that the "law enforcement intelligence bulletin" dated back to July 2014 and was based on intelligence that may have been collected on or around 28 June 2014. The timing of warning's circulation may have been prompted by a spate of arrests in Australia on 18 September 2014, in response to what local law enforcement said was a plot by ISIS operatives to kidnap and decapitate a random Australian.

Fox News reported they had obtained a copy of the law enforcement intelligence bulletin issued in early July 2014, which read (in part):

U.S. based [Home-Grown Violent Extremists] could be inspired by this rhetoric to turn their attention towards carrying out attacks at home ... In recent Twitter posts, foreign fighters in Syria have encouraged Muslims in the West to target soldiers with spontaneous attacks using small arms (i.e. knives and guns.)


One such "foreign fighter" tweet was quoted as well:

You could literally search for soldiers, find their town, photos of them, look for address in Yellowbook or something ... Then show up and slaughter them.


In response to new concerns over the "Continued Threat to Military Personnel from Al-Qaida Inspired Homegrown Violent Extremists" bulletin, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, Peter Boogaard, said on 18 September that although threats attributed to ISIS may have been posted online, there is "no credible intelligence at this time to suggest that there is an active plot by (ISIS) to carry out an attack in the United States":

Public postings by people claiming to be (ISIS) supporters on social media threatening to carry out attacks against the United States and our allies have been made, and we are aware of them. The product referenced is based on such open source social media reports from earlier this summer and is not considered to reference specific, credible evidence of a plot against the homeland.


In March 2015, the Islamic State's so-called Hacking Division posted the names, photographs, and addresses of about 100 U.S. servicemembers to a web site and suggested that U.S. sympathizers should kill those so listed:

With the huge amount of data we have from various different servers and databases, we have decided to leak 100 addresses so that our brothers in America can deal with you. And now we have made it easy for you by giving you addresses, all you need to do is take the final step, so what are you waiting for?


However, ISIS itself didn't threaten to take action against the persons whose names appeared on the list; and it appears the posted information was not obtained (as suggested in the message) via hacking, but rather by collecting it from publicly available sources such as news stories and social media posts:

It does not appear that the information had been hacked from government servers. One Defense Department official said that most of the information could be found in public records, residential address search sites and social media.

The officials said the list appears to be drawn from personnel who have appeared in news articles about airstrikes on the militant group.

Some of the names also appear to be drawn from the Defense Department's own official reports on the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

But the list also included armed services personnel and others in the United States or elsewhere who have had nothing to do with the bombing campaigns, officials said.

For instance, the list includes B-52 crew members stationed in Louisiana and North Dakota, but the air campaign is not using those bombers, the Defense Department official said. Several women are included on the list, but their faces in the photos were blurred. One of the photos appears to be at an official meeting with President Obama.


Last updated:   25 March 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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