A new warning has been issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding the threat from the Islamic State. It pertains to the use of social media accounts to target American service members.
The joint FBI/DHS statement warns that Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) factions overseas are publicly encouraging attacks on military members, and are looking to recruit “like-minded” individuals within the U.S. to carry out terrorist acts for their war effort.
The federal government is urging service members to remove any public material from their Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts that could cause them and their families to be targeted by individuals involved with or sympathetic to the Islamic State. The agencies are saying that material such as pictures in uniform, and information stating that they are employed by a branch of service could put them at risk for terrorist attacks. The advisory also warned service members and DOD employees to take precautions, such as alternating their travel routes, removing identifiable logos and not posting anything online that would link them to the military or the Defense Department.
The agencies expressed concern about possible attacks that would be similar to those carried out in Canada, where two uniformed soldiers were killed in separate incidents by sympathizers of the Islamic State. The attacks appeared to have been planned with online information and no direct contact with Islamic State leaders, who already have, themselves, taken to social media to urge Muslims in the U.S. and Europe to attack service members.
Sunday’s bulletin follows a similar caution two months earlier that warned American service members and law enforcement of “lone wolf” terrorist attacks.
Service members, Veterans and military families are always encouraged to use caution when discussing military service. And safeguarding your personal information on social media accounts is even more crucial for service members, who are at greater risk for identity theft. But this warning brings up a puzzling concern; should active duty members be forced to hide their service?
At this time, there isn’t a widespread military order for this to happen, but it is strongly urged. This could cause both a moral dilemma for members of the military community, as well an issue with morale. Does the threat of possible attacks at home justify calling for service members to hide their service pride in public?
In light of the most recent terrorist threats against state-side service members, all Americans need to be reminded to be watchful of what is happening on the home front. While our police and military do a great job of keeping us safe, national security begins with each and every citizen being vigilant, and reporting any observation of individuals, behaviors or articles out of place.
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