Ex-Gov. Ridge: Hacking group’s kill list only a scare tactic
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Homeland Security chief, does not believe the 100 military members identified in a so-called “kill list” posted online last week by a group calling itself the Islamic State Hacking Division need to fear for their lives, he told the Tribune-Review on Wednesday.
“It’s a tactic designed to scare, designed to intimidate,” Ridge said shortly after giving a speech at the University of Pittsburgh. “Frankly, in the big data world with so much public disclosure about personal information, this comes as no surprise to me.”
The list of 100 names included photos and addresses believed to have been gleaned from public sources such as social media, and the posting called on “sympathizers” to kill the individuals to spread a “world-wide jihad” in retaliation against the “war on Islam.”
Ridge’s primary concern is the rapid growth in strength and appeal of ISIS, known sometimes as ISIL, which has produced very real threats to global security amid rising turmoil in the Middle East.
“The bigger issue is the failure of this administration for three years to accept the reality that al-Qaida is not on the run — they’ve expanded; that ISIL was not a J.V. team — they’re a significant threat,” said Ridge, “and that Iran is the major cause of all that unrest and chaos in the Middle East.”
Christopher Dolan, professor of politics at Lebanon Valley College, said he, too, thinks those individuals on the kill-list are “relatively safe.” He said the posting is another example of ISIS supporters employing an effective method to garner attention and inflict terror.
“They’re very sophisticated,” said Dolan, “and they know how to spread fear.”
Ridge, a Republican and Munhall native, recently endorsed Jeb Bush for president. Ridge had harsh words for the Obama administration and its foreign policy decisions. He balked at Obama’s refusal to use the phrase “radical Islam.”
Obama, whose press office could not be reached Wednesday, has cautioned against using such labels or relegating discussions about threats by terror groups to a type of “religious war.”
“I don’t quibble with labels. I think we all recognize that this is a particular problem that has roots in Muslim communities,” Obama recently told CNN. “But I think we do ourselves a disservice in this fight if we are not taking into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject this ideology.”
Ridge said that “it’s a horrible mistake to think everybody who goes to a mosque are radical.”
“But there are those that have hijacked this, and they are radical, and we need the broader Muslim community to help us identify and eradicate this scourge,” Ridge said.
Obama has touted a 60-country coalition working together to take ISIS down.
“We can talk all about a coalition,” Ridge said, “but I don’t see any coalition-building leadership, including more boots on the ground from some of the neighbors.”
Natasha Lindstrom is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8514 or [email protected].