Group’s ‘target’ of Suffolk outdated

Published 10:36 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Local and military leaders say a supposed terrorist threat against Suffolk circulating on social media is old and based on outdated information, but they still urge citizens to be vigilant and notify law enforcement if anything seems out of the ordinary.

“The ‘See Something, Say Something’ campaign crosses many spectrums, and this is one of them,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, who works in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The alleged “kill list” that includes Suffolk was released last March but has gained renewed traction on social media following the mass shootings and suicide bombings in Paris on Nov. 13, which killed 129 people and injured 433.

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The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — often called simply ISIL or ISIS — has claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to worldwide media.

The listing of about 55 American cities — including Suffolk, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach but also ranging from Reno, Nev., to Barkhamsted, Conn. — came from a list put on Twitter in the spring that Crosson said identified 100 military service members the terrorists urged followers and sympathizers to target.

“It’s not new information,” Crosson said of the most recent iteration of the list. “It’s just reformatted and remarketed.”

Suffolk wound up on the list because at least one of the military members lived in the city. Crosson said the service members on the list ranged from “young enlisted” to mid-rank, with few, if any, senior leaders. It wasn’t clear how the names were chosen, Crosson said. Some aren’t even in the military anymore.

The military notified their personnel who were named on the list, with the FBI and local law enforcement following up with those who were no longer in the military. All received training on how to spot anything out of the ordinary going on around their homes, in addition to their normal training.

“They get annual training on how to conduct themselves not only overseas but here in the United States,” Crosson said.

Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett said he has been in daily contact with the FBI since the Paris attacks, and one of the Suffolk Police Department’s detectives serves on a regional joint terrorism task force.

“At this point, we’re not overly concerned about any specific threats in this area,” he said.

Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the agency is closely monitoring the situation in Paris and an alleged threat against Washington, D.C.

“State troopers are on alert, and our department is in constant communication with our local, state and federal partners as we move through the coming days and weeks,” Geller said.

She reminded Virginians of the “See Something, Send Something” free mobile app, which can be found at

Mythbusting website Snopes also has addressed the issue of the so-called “target list” and quotes military and government officials making points similar to those Crosson made. Its findings can be found at