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'Why would they pick me?' -- What it's like to be on an ISIS hit list

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'Why would they pick me?' -- What it's like to be on an ISIS hit list

There are some lists people want their names on -- a VIP list, or perhaps a guest list. But an Islamic State hit list is not one of them.

There are 15,000 Americans so far that have been named on lists compiled and published online by terrorist supporters. Their goal? To create fear and draw attention to their ISIS "fan club."

But the lists can also tip off so-called "lone wolf" terrorists and sleeper cells to the names and locations of vulnerable U.S. citizens.

Circa spoke with two women who were named on an ISIS hit list targeting Texans about the startling news, and how it has changed their lives. 

Out of 24 people that Circa contacted on the Texas hit list, only two had been notified by law enforcement that they were named.

Anne and Amelia were the only ones willing to talk to Circa on camera -- we have given them fake names to protect them.

Amelia, a military wife, received a phone call from the Army informing her that there was a "credible threat" on her life. When she asked for more details, she was told that there was no further information on the threat. 

Since then, Amelia has changed her daily routine. She's also deleted her Facebook account, and says she is constantly looking over her shoulder. 

What if your name was on an ISIS hit list?

"I've been much more conscious about how I'm taking a specific route to work," Amelia said. "I've kind of varied up different streets -- I wont go the same way every day."

It wasn't until Circa called to ask about the list that she discovered the truth about the threat.

Another woman Circa talked to, Anne, did get a call from local police. They told her all about the kill list and answered all of Anne's questions. She says that made her feel reassured, but she still wonders: Why her?

"That's just so far away," Anne said. "They're going for large-scale targets, they're not into focusing on one individual. Why would they pick me?" 

They're the Kardashians of terrorist groups. They need to be in the media.
Alberto Fernandez, vice president MEMRI, on ISIS' need for publicity


It's not clear how Islamic State supporters gathered the information to create this hit list, but Alberto Fernandez, vice president of the Middle East Media Research Institute, said ISIS' main goal is to create fear and get media attention.

Posting lists with thousands of Americans' names is a good way to do that, he says


Why were only some people notified about the list? It's unclear, but the FBI says they intend to work with local police to make sure everyone named on a list is notified.

Although the news came as a shock, Amelia says she's glad she knows about the threat now.

"I think it would have come back and crept into my mind over and over again, wondering and not knowing had I not received that call from you," she said.

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