Conflict & Justice

"Wish list" of potential terrorism targets shows up on Jihadi web forum


A 2007 picture of Adam Gadahn, an American-born al Qaeda figure who encourages jihad among extremists.



A list of potential terror targets that included the names of individuals in US government, industry and the media was posted on jihadi Web forums, according to a US FBI intelligence bulletin, CNN reported.

One of the sites, Ansar al-Mujahideen, is an international forum for terrorists and is one of the top 10 outlets distributing jihadi propaganda, according to CBS News. The list of potential targets included Defense Department officials, officials at defense contractors, members of Congress and private individuals, many with links to the Iraq War.

The list led the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to alert law enforcement officials around the US and in other countries, as a precautionary move, because posters on the website were making threats on a publicly accessible forum, ABC News reported.

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The list appears to be more of a "wish list" than a hit list. The FBI said that "while the information posted was detailed, it appears aspirational in nature and it is unknown whether the threat will progress beyond discussion" on the Internet, according to CNN.

The names of more than 40 people were posted, along with photographs for 26 of the suggested targets. The FBI noted that there had been an increase in postings on jihadi sites since Osama bin Laden's death in Pakistan during a US military raid but said this list had "the most target-specific threat postings" since his demise.

The FBI said the list followed the release of a video on June 3 featuring an American-born al Qaeda figure, Adam Gadahn, "in which he encourages acts of individual jihad" from extremists living in the US.

The first Web post on one of the lists made note of Gadahn's call for attacks, which led to other forum members suggesting possible targets.

Aaron Weisburd, director of the Society for Internet Research, said that the threatening posts first appeared on a Qaeda-linked site known as the Shumukh forum -- a password-protected, members-only site, according to Fox News. He said the messages then migrated over to the more-accessible Ansar site.

The list, which covers dozens of names connected to the Iraq war, including executives at Halliburton and KBR and two prominent French executives, was put together by users who vowed to "send explosive mail" to the "best target."

Security analysts believe the call to arms and the list may underscore a shift in terror strategy -- from top-down, large-scale events to smaller attacks carried out in some cases by freelancing, lone-wolf types, Fox News said.

A law enforcement official said there was no indication that a specific plot existed, CNN said. The official didn't know if people on the list of possible targets had been informed by law enforcement or whether they had been given any recommendations to protect their safety.