An al-Qaida-linked website has posted a potential hit list of targets that include names and photos of several U.S. officials and business leaders, calling for terrorists to target these Americans in their own homes, NBC New York has learned.
The FBI has sent out a new intelligence bulletin to law enforcement agencies, warning that this new web-based threat, while not a specific plot, is very detailed. The bulletin said the list includes leaders “in government, industry and media.”
The FBI has notified those individuals who are named.
NBC New York will not identify them or their companies. The list includes Wall Street firms, political leaders, leaders with think tanks and contractors who do business with the military.
The websites contain 40 specific names, 26 of them with photos attached, and they call for posting home addresses. One jihadist called for sending package bombs to any listed address as just one possibility.
An FBI spokesman declined to comment.
The FBI is calling the list of names the most detailed web-based al-Qaida-linked threat since Osama bin Laden was killed. The list has also been discussed on another al-Qaida-linked web forum.
The concern is a lone actor could try to use the specific information for a plot.
The FBI letter says the information on the overseas websites “is aspirational and it’s unknown if the threat will progress beyond these discussion forums.”
These specific postings follow calls by Adam Gadahn — al-Qaida’s American-born communication chief — for individual attacks.
Officials are concerned the list has been shared on numerous jihadist sites.
“What’s scary about this is how specific the individual information is,” said former New York State Homeland Security Director Michael Balboni. “What you don’t know is, when does aspirational become operational in cases like this, involving a possible lone actor here inspired by a website.”
The FBI memo stresses al-Qaida and its supporters have a history of making web based threats with little result.
“Part of this is a necessary precaution. You don’t want to scare people,” Balboni said. “But there is much more specific, individual targeting than we’ve seen before.”
Since bin Laden was killed, intelligence officials have been working to track terrorists and monitor possible plots. Experts say fear of a homegrown or isolated actor remains a concern.
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