The names of a handful of St. Paul police officers are on a list of Minnesota and South Dakota officers reportedly posted by a group of hackers affiliated with ISIS, the St. Paul Police Department and FBI said Tuesday. A news website referred to it as a “kill list.”
“We’re aware of the list, and any St. Paul officers who are on it have been made aware,” said Sgt. Mike Ernster, a St. Paul police spokesman. “We’re working with law enforcement partners, including the FBI, to make sure they’re safe.”
“A group of hackers affiliated with ISIS have reportedly posted a ‘kill list’ together with the names and personal details of 36 policemen in Minnesota,” according to the Vocativ article. “The list, published by the ‘Caliphate Cyber Army’ on Telegram, includes full names, home addresses, email addresses and phone numbers of all the men. The targets allegedly live in cities geographically distributed throughout Minnesota, with the highest concentration in and around the Twin Cities.”
FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said he could not specify the number of affected officers, but described it as “in the dozens.” They are from the Twin Cities, greater Minnesota and South Dakota, he said.
“Any time there is a threat to law enforcement, the FBI takes that extremely seriously, so when we go about our efforts we will proceed as though this threat is a serious and legitimate threat,” Loven said.
The FBI is working with law enforcement agencies to ensure those affected “have the appropriate information,” Loven said.
Four St. Paul officers were on the list, plus one retired St. Paul officer, Ernster said. “Some of the information (posted) is very vague,” he said. Some included home addresses.
The list was brought to the St. Paul Police Department’s attention Monday by “law enforcement partners,” Ernster said.
The St. Paul officers on the list work in various parts of the department, Ernster said, adding that it’s not clear why they would be on the list. He said he didn’t have information about whether they’d worked on terrorism-related cases.
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Tuesday that no officers from his department were on the list.
Paul Ford, president of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, said he did not know how many departments were affected.
“We’re all vulnerable to this type of hacking by terrorists or any number of other criminal organizations or individuals, and it’s important for organizations and individuals to do everything they can to protect their personal information,” Ford said. “But even when you take all the appropriate steps, there’s still no guarantee that someone somewhere will be able to access your information from some source.”
Minnesota has been at the heart of the battle against homegrown terrorism, chiefly among the large Somali immigrant community in Minneapolis. At least 10 Minnesota men have been charged in an alleged conspiracy to travel to Syria and fight for ISIS, and several dozen are believed to have left the country since 2007 to join ISIS or the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabab.