GIF Leads to Arrest of American ISIS Supporter
Tumblr is home and safe haven to endless niche groups, but ISIS is not one the social site particularly likes. FBI’s Cleveland Division shares the feeling.
On Thursday, 25 year-old Islamic State pledge Terrence McNeil was arrested on charges of solicitation of violence against 100 United States military members. According to a report by The Guardian, the inciting post was a GIF reblogged on September 24th, revealing the names and addresses of the 100 servicemen received from the Islamic State Hacking Division (a hacktivist group that acts in support of ISIS). Below the image reads the hair-raising caption, “kill them wherever you find them.” In addition to publicizing confidential information about the 100 individuals, the GIF reminds ISIS supporters that the crusade is not bound by the “lands of the Khilafah,” encouraging a creep of violence towards US soil.
Digging deeper into McNeil’s Twitter handle and Tumblr account, the content was more than enough to make investigators’ blood run cold, and mount cause for the arrest. His Twitter posts, which was traced back to an IP address in McNeil’s house, commands ISIS followers to “kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking they are safe,” in reference to non-believers. McNeil also frequently reposted quotes from Jihadi leaders and sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased American Al-Qaeda supporter. More recent posts run in a similar vein of violence, with captions including, “just thinking of getting martyred puts a smile on my face.”
As he awaits trial, officials wonder whether the accusations are enough to trump free speech. The FBI findings are terrifying and clearly a threat to the 100 men, but in light of the pressing debate about free speech and safe space surrounding Mizzou, the debate is more sensitive. According to FBI agent Stephen Anthony, “the individual arrested today went far beyond free speech by reposting names and addresses of 100 US service members, all with the intent to have them killed.”
There’s a fine line between expression and behavior, and the place between thoughts and actions, but the deliberate call for the death of the men, in tandem with the general violence voiced on his social pages, “could justify law enforcement’s decision to treat this as a ‘true threat’ and thus a crime.”
McNeil is set to appear in court next week. Stay tuned for more Milk news and updates.
Images via Tumblr, Business Insider, Huffington Post