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Central Command's Twitter, You Tube Hacked To Post Threats to Troops

 A screen capture of CENTCOM's hacked Twitter account.
A screen capture of CENTCOM's hacked Twitter account.

U.S. Central Command social media accounts have been hacked to post threatening messages to U.S. troops, purportedly from sympathizers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Pentagon said Monday.

"American Soldiers. We are coming. Watch your back. ISIS," said one of the posts to the CentCom Twitter account.

Another Twitter post said that "ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base. With Allah's permission we are in CENTCOM now."

In a statement, Cmdr. Elyssa Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that the U.S. Central Command Twitter and YouTube accounts were compromised earlier today. We are taking appropriate measures to address the matter."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration is "examining and investigating the extent of the incident."

"This is something we are obviously looking into and something we take seriously," Earnest told reporters while seeking to downplay the significance of the hacking. He said there was a "pretty significant difference" between "a large data breach and the hacking of a Twitter account."

In addition to the Twitter hack, CentCom's YouTube account appeared to have been altered to post two ISIS propaganda videos and a "CyberCaliphate" banner.

The CentCom hacking incidents occurred as President Obama was visiting the Federal Trade Commission to press Congress for new safeguards against hacking and laws to protect Americans' privacy and the trail of data they leave on smart phones, computers and other devices.

Obama said the FTC plays a major role in policing Internet commerce that provides benefits in "managing our bank accounts, paying our bills, handling everything from medical bills to movie tickets."

However, Obama said, "with these benefits come risks. Major companies get hacked -- the problem is growing and costs us billions of dollars."

The hacking followed claims by the Pentagon and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey that ISIS was "on the defensive" with its command and communications disrupted after more than 1,600 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria by the U.S. and its coalition partners.

However, over the weekend ISIS fighters launched attacks on Kurdish Peshmerga defenders and killed at least 24 near the town of Gwer, about 25 miles southwest of the Kurdish capital of Irbil, and also attacked the Iraqi oil refinery town of Baiji.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com

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