As many as 285 Indian nationals – many of them average people who never in their life may have harboured animosity towards the Islamic State (IS), despite disproving the group's horrific killings – are among those to find place in the 4,000-odd 'kill list' drawn by a pro-IS group from across the globe. The civilian target list, drawn by pro-IS United Cyber Caliphate and released on Wednesday on its private Telegram channel, gives personal details of the picks, and exhorts lone wolves to find and attack them.
The data in the excel sheet format contains names and addresses of 4,681 random civilians from around 18 countries including US, Britain, Canada, France and India. Jihadi intelligence agencies SITE and Flashpoint undermined the threat from the kill list as the personal details of people were taken from open sources on the web which is freely accessible. The hacking group, UCC, is believed to have 'repackaged' information available in public and collated the details from various platforms into one list, making it to appear like a targeted kill list.
It is thus unlikely that pro-IS supporters hacked a large set of database or is handpicking individual accounts. "While its methods and tactics continue to convey a relatively low and unsophisticated skill set, the group's association with IS creates the potential for real world effects, and high propaganda value,'' Flashpoint analysts reported.
This is the second such kill list, published by the same group this month, to inspire lone wolves to take revenge for Muslims. The list appears to be in line with the IS propaganda which asks followers who can't make the 'hijrah' (migration) to Syria and Iraq for jihad, to act in their countries and kill 'kufars' (non-Muslims) wherever they can find them. Shortly after the Orlando shooting, where a neurotic gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in a nightclub popular among the LGBT community killing 49 and called 911 to pledge his allegiance to IS, the group's supporters started disseminating propaganda calling for individuals to attack people from western countries. Last week, UCC released the first list with 8318 names of nationals from US, Canada, UK and Australia.
The purpose of releasing such a list publicly on web is reflective of the group's tactics to spread fear psychosis amongst general public. Interviews of individuals, whose names appeared in Canada and US, showed they had no idea how their details reached the hands of IS men but are now feeling insecure knowing that the group has information on them. Although not considered of any imminent threat, authorities in US and Canada contacted people in the list to warn them to keep a watch.
Although only a handful of Indians are known to have joined IS and died in fighting, the group has not staged any attack in India. The National Investigating Agency had arrested more than 50 people suspected of subscribing to IS ideology and Caliphate. "We are not aware of the kill list. But the possibility of lone wolves acting cannot be refuted. Agencies are keeping a close watch on such suspects to avert any attack,'' said one senior officer.