Military Spouses Threatened by ISIS Affiliate on Twitter, Facebook

ISIS propaganda image

A group claiming to be affiliated with the ISIS militant group hacked the Military Spouses of Strength Twitter account Tuesday morning and sent threats to a group of military spouses on Twitter and Facebook.

The group called themselves the Gasper CyberCaliphate Sadz and claimed to be aligned with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) pursuing a "Cyber Jihad." Members of the group took over the Twitter account for Military Spouses of Strength, replaced the profile photo, and sent the threatening messages to the spouses using their full names.

The same cyber terrorism group, which said it's associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), hacked U.S. Central Command's You Tube and Twitter accounts in January. Newsweek officials have also said the group hacked its Twitter feed on Tuesday.

Read more: 'ISIS Threatened Me but They Didn't Win'

The cyber terrorism group listed the military spouse's full name on Twitter followed by the message: "You think you're safe but the IS is already here, CyberCaliphate got into your PC and smartphone."

Messages directed at the women also stated: "We know everything about you, your husband and your children and we're much closer than you can even imagine. You'll see no mercy infidel!"

The women also revived friend requests on Facebook that included the message: "While your president and your husband are killing our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we're coming for you."

As part of the threats sent to the military spouses, Gasper CyberCalihpate Sadz issued a threat directed at First Lady Michelle Obama, who advocated for military families.

"Bloody Valentine's Day #Michelle Obama! We're watching you, your girls and your husband!" the message said.

The women that were threatened said they were told that the FBI has opened an investigation into the social media threats. A request for comment from the FBI was not immediately returned.

The spouses targeted by Gasper CyberCaliphate Sadz all commented for a CNN article about the potential threat of ISIS targeting military families because of their spouses' military careers. One of those women is Amy Bushatz, an editor at Military.com who manages the SpouseBuzz blog.

"Being singled out by a potential terrorist organization is unnerving but I have no intention of living in fear or changing my life," said Bushatz who has a husband in the Army and two young sons.

Bushatz wrote about her reactions to receiving the threats on Twitter and Facebook on SpouseBuzz. She explained how her reactions ranged from being "super pissed" to having no intention of living in fear after being threatened. In fact, she joked that her husband recommended not allowing anyone into the house that looked like a terrorist.  

"I'm not the type of person to live in fear or change my life just because some person on the internet wants to scare me. I've never done that before and I have no intention of doing it now," Bushatz wrote.

Liz Snell is the founder of Military Spouses of Strength whose husband serves in the Marine Corps. The group was established to improve mental health awareness for service members and their families. A request for comment from Snell was not immediately returned.

The Twitter account for Military Spouses of Support was temporarily suspended by Twitter.

Lori Volkman, the founder of Trajectory Communications who is married to a Navy Reserve officer, was also targeted by Gasper CyberCaliphate Sadz. She said her first reaction to seeing the threats was "shock."

"I was being threatened by first and last name. It felt personal," Volkman said. "But then I saw the identical messages, the generic words used, and realized we were all quoted in a recent article."

-- Michael Hoffman can be reached at mike.hoffman@military.com

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