The terror group known as ISIS published information on U.S. military members and their families and made online threats at them. Although it's not the first time military families have faced such threats, the latest one from a group sympathetic to ISIS has many reconsidering their online presence, especially in social media.
According to Janice Carpio of FOX San Antonio, the Pentagon plans to notify 100 military members that their personal information, including names and addresses, were published on the Internet by the Islamic State Hacking Division. The group claimed it made the information public to encourage Muslims in the U.S. to kill them.
"The Army is coordinating efforts with the Department of Defense as we work to determine the validity of any potential threats," the Department of Defense said in a statement. "In the meantime, our Criminal Investigative Division is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has provided the information to local units and, as always, we encourage soldiers to take prudent measures to limit the sharing of personal information online."
Carpio reported that the released information included full names, rank and personal addresses of military members. However, Jeffrey Addicott, St. Mary's University Professor of Law Expert, told Carpio that the threats should be taken seriously, even if it's highly unlikely that ISIS would carry out such attacks in the United States.
"[They're] initiating murder, threatening different types of crimes against individuals," Addicott said. "So will any of these 100 people actually be attacked, probably not, but they've instilled fear into our society and that's what they're trying to do."
Addicott added that unlike al-Qaida, ISIS has been able to use the Internet to achieve its dangerous objectives.
"Al-Qaida was never really able to inspire people because al-Qaida was always under the ground," Addicott said. "ISIS is above ground, waving the black flag of radical Islam."
According to Carpio, the government claimed that the information came from the Internet and social media, not through any data breach. Whatever the source, Ashley Fantz of CNN reported that military families are looking for information on social media profiles such as Facebook, scrubbing out any information that could give them away.
"It's hard because I am so proud of what my husband does, but lately so many spouses that I know are actually scared that they could be targets of ISIS or someone who sympathizes with ISIS," a spouse of a Special Forces solider said to CNN.
Army wife Ashley Broadway-Mack told CNN that the previous and current threatening messages from ISIS amplified her anxiety. Others worried that they could be singled out as targets.
"I honestly didn't think ISIS was a threat to our family or other military families," Mack said back in January. "I worry about the hundreds, thousands of folks going to and from work in uniform. They, too, could be targets. I think of other areas around the country where there's a large military presence -- an attack, ambush, lone terrorist is something I fear."
Mack added that "it's only a matter of time" before ISIS could pull off an attack against members of the military and their families.
"I hate to say it, but I honestly no longer think if, but when and where," Mack said.
However, not all military families are caving in to the ISIS threats. Lori Volkman told CNN that even though her daughter expressed concerns about being targets, she and other military family members have made small, simple changes to protect themselves.
"Kids are comforted by whatever their parents tell them," Volkman said. "We can't live our lives in fear and we try to reassure them."
Military spouse Angela McCormick Ricketts, author of the memoir "No Man's War," also had a significant online presence. Like Volkman, she told CNN that she's not cowering in fear either.
"I'm probably screwed if ISIS starts targeting yappy military spouses, so it's too late now!" Ricketts said. "There's also a part of me that thinks that's what they want -- to make us always looking over our shoulders. So no. No to all of it."