Officials investigating why Kiwi is named on Isis hit list

Quran 3:151. We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve…

An Aucklander is on a “kill list” published by Islamic State fighters who claim to have hacked the computers of US military personnel.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Government was investigating the threat made by the hacking group.

“It’s obviously something we’re concerned about and looking into,” he told reporters at Parliament this afternoon.

The minister would not be drawn on why the New Zealander had been targeted or how at risk they were, only saying that one of Isis’ tactics was to create uncertainty and fear.

Asked whether the person would be given protection, Mr Brownlee said “of course” and indicated that the family had been contacted.He would not elaborate on any plans for protection.

The father of the New Zealander on the list says his son is wary of the threat.

“He’s holding up as well as can be expected but obviously he’s looking over his shoulder,” the father told TV3 News today.

The man has no links to the military and his father has only old ties through a legal role.

It appeared the man’s email address, password and phone number had come from multiple sources.

“Basically [it’s] a mish-mash of details,” the father said. A note on the parents’ door reads: “We are surprised and shocked by the news we have received today. We are taking advice on how to respond appropriately. We will issue a statement later.”

Prime Minister John Key said details on the “hit list” published by Islamic State hackers were “scant”.

He said he was relying on further details to be provided to him by officials.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Isis try and use intimidation tactics, in fact it’s quite consistent with what they do,” he said.

He told media gathered at the Wiri Train Depot in Auckland this afternoon that how real the threat was for the Aucklander named on the list was “relatively unknown”.

“The police are looking at the matter and, as and if required, the appropriate support would be put around the person.”

Mr Key said officials were looking to establish why the person’s name had been included on the list.

The risk to Kiwi troops in Iraq had not changed, he said.

“There are always risks operating in Iraq but I don’t think they’ve changed as a result of the list that’s been published.”

Mr Key wouldn’t say whether New Zealand’s involvement in Iraq was behind the Kiwi being named on the list.

“We will need to understand that list a bit better … I’m not in a position to answer that,” he said.

A New Zealand police spokesperson said today the “hit list” was being investigated.

Police had contacted the person’s family and were providing support and advice.

The spokesperson said the family did not know why their name had appeared, and police could also find no reason for its inclusion on the list.

“Police will continue to work with the relevant agencies to provide appropriate support required for any individuals, and we will continue to ensure that New Zealanders are safe and feel safe.”

Protection was an option for the family and the individual named.

The list, which was published on social media, is mostly of American soldiers and officials. It includes contact details for the New Zealander, who the Herald has chosen not to name.

The Kiwi’s father said the development was alarming. His child had no connection to any military group and he could not understand why their name was listed.

Some of the details published on the website were inaccurate or at least five years old.

“It’s irresponsible, totally. It’s one thing to hack, but to simply spread the information without any concern whatsoever for the accuracy of the list is totally irresponsible,” the father said.

Asked whether the family had any military ties, the father said that he had personally had worked for the New Zealand Defence Force – but in a non-combat capacity.

“But that has no connection to the Islamic State or serving in a combat role overseas,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense. There’s really no connection between the number that’s appeared and my time in the defence forces.”

The New Zealand Defence Force referred questions to the Defence Minister.

A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said he would not comment on the issue at this stage.

The tight-knit group of Islamic State fighters claims it has again hacked the computers of US military personnel, publishing an extensive list of names and contact details and urging supporters to kill them.

The list was published via social media overnight by a group calling itself the Islamic State Hacking Division, which is believed to be led by British man Junaid Hussain, a close associate of Prakash.

In a message which accompanied the release of the list, the hacker, writing under his Twitter handle Abu Hussain al-Britani, said: “They have us on their ‘hit list’, and we have them on ours too.”

The attack comes after reports last week that Hussain was third on a CIA kill list of Islamic State operatives, along with another British citizen, Raphael Hostey, a recruiter for the group who is also a close associate of Prakash and has named the Melbourne man as his “co-worker”.

The only Islamic State members higher than Hussain on the kill list are the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Mohammed Emwazi, the extremist known as Jihadi John, the masked executioner who featured in a number of beheading videos.

Prakash, considered Australia’s top Islamic State recruiter, immediately followed the posting of the list with his own message via social media, writing on Wednesday morning: “*IMPORTANT* Please follow and share … Cyber war got em shook!”

Another supporter of the group then tweeted: “KILL THEM WHERE YOU FIND THEM AND ENSLAVE THEIR WOMEN.”

Another tweeted: “This information is very useful for lone wolves to act and kill.”

Hussain is believed to have played a key role in the online radicalisation of at least one of the men behind the attack on a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas.

The list published overnight includes the names of more than 1400 people, the department or division where they are based, email addresses, postcodes and telephone numbers.

It also purports to include credit card information and addresses of air force and Department of State employees, and email exchanges between military personnel.

The information has not been verified.

The Isis hackers wrote: “They have us on their ‘hit list’, and we have them on ours too.” Photo / Getty Images

A note accompanying the list, which is in the form of a spreadsheet, warns US military personnel that the Islamic State Hacking Division is “in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move”.

“We have your names and addresses, we are in your emails and social media accounts, we are extracting confidential data and passing on your personal information to the soldiers of the khilafah, who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands,” it said.

In March, the monitoring organisation SITE Intelligence reported the same group claimed to have hacked information about US military personnel, releasing a list purported to contain names, photos and ranks.

Australian connection

Australian Defence Force employees and a Victorian MP are among those who have reportedly had their personal information hacked by the Islamic State group.

The personal details of over 1400 people, including their phone numbers and email addresses, have been shared on social media, Fairfax Media and News Corp reported on Thursday.

It’s believed at least eight Australians are on the list, which is made up mostly of US military personnel.

Claims Croatian hostage beheaded

The Islamic State group claims to have beheaded a Croatian hostage abducted in Egypt, posting a purported picture of the victim’s body on Isis-affiliated Twitter accounts.

The Croat, Tomislav Salopek, was abducted last month west of the capital Cairo. The jihadists had issued a 48-hour deadline that ended last Friday threatening to kill him if Muslim women prisoners were not released from Egyptian jails.

The picture’s authenticity could not be immediately verified.

His abduction and purported killing were unprecedented in Egypt, which is battling an Isis insurgency in the eastern Sinai Peninsula.

State-run Croatian news agency HINA quoted a foreign ministry source as saying it “does not have confirmation that abducted Croatian citizen Tomislav Salopek has been killed.”

The picture was posted on Is-affiliated Twitter accounts with the caption: “Execution of prisoner from Croatia – which has participated in war on Islamic State – after deadline ended.”

Salopek, a 31-year-old father of two, had been working with French geoscience company CGG when abducted from a car roughly 22km west of Cairo, security sources told AFP.

Egypt had said it was intensifying efforts to locate Salopek after Isis released a video of the hostage last Wednesday.

In the video, Salopek, kneeling next to a masked militant holding a knife, was forced to read a statement saying his captors would execute him in 48 hours if Cairo failed to release female prisoners, a key demand of Islamist militants over the past two years.

Salopek’s abduction had been treated by police as a criminal kidnapping before the video emerged.

Although Isis’s Egyptian affiliate has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, the country had been spared the gruesome kidnappings and executions of foreigners conducted by Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Salopek’s father had appealed to the kidnappers to release him and Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic had travelled to Cairo for emergency talks.

Officials investigating why Kiwi is named on Isis hit list