The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a bulletin to reporters on Thursday warning that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had identified reporters and media personalities as “desirable targets” for retribution attacks against the United States.
“The FBI assesses, based on open source statements and postings, that [ISIL] members and supporters view members of the US media establishment as legitimate targets for retribution attacks as the US-led air campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria continues,” the FBI bulletin states. “Online supporters of ISIL have called—via various social media sites—for retaliation against the United States and US interests abroad, especially since US-led air strikes in Iraq and Syria began.”
In the bulletin, the FBI claims to have “recently obtained credible information indicating members of an ISIL-affiliated group are tasked with kidnapping journalists in the region and returning them to Syria. Members of this group might try to mask their affiliation with ISIL to gain access to journalists,” the bulletin reads.
The bulletin also noted the recent executions of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and cited an online post by an ISIL supporter titled “A Message to 2.6 Million Muslims in the United States: This Is How To Respond to Obama’s War on Islam.” The post’s author identified media personnel such as anchormen, field reporters and talk show hosts as people “proved to be biased” and, as such, prioritized targets for execution.
The bulletin, which the FBI supplied to news organizations so that they “may take appropriate steps to notify their journalists in the field,” was dated Oct. 22 but sent out Thursday by the Public Affairs department for the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
ISIL published a YouTube video in mid-August showing the beheading of Foley, a photojournalist. It released another video showing the beheading of Sotloff, a freelance journalist, in early September.
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