Minot air base members on ISIS ‘hit list'
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. - Six military members from Minot Air Force Base are among 100 U.S. airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines whose personal information and photos were posted on a purported Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) "hit list...
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. - Six military members from Minot Air Force Base are among 100 U.S. airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines whose personal information and photos were posted on a purported Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) "hit list," although an Air Force press officer said some of those on the list may not even be stationed in Minot any longer.
Air Force press officer Lt. Col. Holly Slaughter said, nonetheless, that their top priority is protecting the members on the list that was released over the weekend by a group calling themselves the “Islamic State Hacking Division.”
“We don’t list the addresses of any of our members,” Slaughter said. “It’s a privacy matter and some of those people on the list don’t live there and there might be wrong addresses for others.”
Slaughter also questioned if the list was even placed online by ISIS, the extremist group that has been fighting in Iraq and Syria. “That’s all part of the investigation that is ongoing,” she said.
Fifty seven of the 100 on the list were Air Force members. There were none from Grand Forks Air Force Base on the list.
The Pentagon was busy notifying troops on the list about the posting.The list included names, photos, home addresses and some ranks of the military members and said that it leaked the list “so that our brothers residing in America can deal with you.”
The group claimed it had obtained the information by breaching military security, however, The Daily Beast online news outlet website said Monday that at least two-thirds of the troops had been featured on public Defense Department websites designed to promote the military.
Many service members were quoted or photographed in promotional stories talking about their work, often in the Middle East, said the website. Others were featured in news videos or in holiday messages to their families. Some were photographed after they returned home from long missions. Others were spokespeople or official photographers for the U.S. military, The Daily Beast said.
The ISIS posting is part of its often-slick effort in social media to fight back against its foes across the world. It has been basically defenseless against American air strikes which by the latest count have killed more than 8,500 fighters and struck more than 5,300 targets.
Meanwhile, Slaughter said the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations is coordinating with local and other national agencies in the “priority of ensuring our forces and their families are safe.”
She said the Office of Special Investigations will be working with the FBI, local law enforcement in Minot and other agencies on force protection.
The cooperation with Minot law officers in the past “has been nothing but extraordinary,” said Lt. Col Christopher Karns, chief of media operations with the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. He didn’t specify any cooperative matters but said “anytime the Minot Air Force base has had a law enforcement matter we’ve always been able to rely on them for support.”
As a matter of policy, specific force protection initiatives involved in incidents such as this are not discussed, Karns said.
Karns also didn’t want to comment on whether any military computers were hacked in the incident, saying the investigation was ongoing.
As a step to further protect airmen, Karns said as it relates to personal social media accounts, the Air Force is encouraging troops to remove personal details such as physical addresses, email addresses and phone numbers.
Minot Air Force Base is home to two wings, according to the base website. The 5th Bomb Wing's B-52H Stratofortress bombers serve as part of the Air Force's strategic and conventional combat force, while the 91st Missile Wing is one of three of the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile wings.