The Drunken Cyclist and the Islamic State

I rarely talk about politics or even current events on this site, opting to keep it about wine (and sometimes cycling), but today, perhaps “inspired” by last night’s debate, I feel the need to publish the following about my ever so little brush with terrorism.

A few months ago, I was in Roanoke, Virginia with my two boys driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway, taking our time getting down to our new home in Houston, Texas. I originally had every intention of producing new material while out on the road, but that had proved near impossible as I was traveling with my two boys and we were frankly having too much fun.

On that day, I received a call from my wife that caused me not only to pull over to the side of the road, but wonder if the move to Houston was a good idea at all. This was more than just a second-guessing about leaving my adopted home town of Philadelphia. It was more than moving to the South, or more precisely, the Great State of Texas. I literally pondered whether I should turn around and drive back to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with my boys and demand that my wife come join us.

(Let me be clear, I never demand my wife do anything [with the possible exception of requesting a modicum of silence while I am watching my favorite football team on the television].)

I write the following not seeking advice (for we had already made up our minds on what to do), but rather wondering what others would do if they were in my/our place.

So here goes.

On that day in Roanoke, when I called to check in with my wife, she told me that the manager of the apartment complex where we were staying for a few months while our house was being completed had flagged her down when she returned from work that day. The manager alerted my wife that an agent from the F.B.I. had stopped by and wanted to talk to her.

Yeah, that F.B.I.

The agent had left a card on the apartment door requesting that my wife call him at her earliest convenience. Being the dutiful citizen that she is (and no doubt thinking that I was at the root of this problem somehow), she called and the agent came over immediately.

The agent informed my wife that the previous inhabitant of our apartment was on a recent “Kill List” published by the Islamic State (ISIS).


Perhaps obviously, I immediately had a ton of questions as well as the urge to tell her to get out of there as soon as possible.

Then I did what I usually do, I did a little research. I found out, like with most things in life, it turned out to be a tad more complicated than that.

Several months prior, a hacker group affiliated with ISIS published the names and addresses of about 2,000 civilians in New York and another 1,500 residents of Texas that were either hacked from some undetermined list or were simply random names that were obtained by some public means.

According to the FBI, the previous resident of our apartment was the person on the list, not either my wife or me, but the address associated with the name was very much the same as ours. Ours was the only apartment in a fairly large gated complex on the list, but the FBI agent told us that it was agency protocol to let us know.

My wife and I then had a long discussion as to what we should do. Basically, we felt we had three choices: 1. Move to another apartment in the same complex. 2. Get out of the complex altogether. 3. Do nothing and move out in three months as planned.

I had originally planned to publish this article at the time, but I demurred to the wishes of my wife not to make it public. Now that we are in our new house, however, I thought I would revisit this episode to see what others might have done had they been in our place.

So what would you do?

Here are two articles I found about the ISIS list:

The Wall Street Journal (requires subscription)


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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33 Responses to The Drunken Cyclist and the Islamic State

  1. A worry for sure and gives pause for thought. I figure it would provide sufficient rationale to break the 3-month lease you signed. I’d like to say I’d be brave and stick it out, in part as an act of defiance and in light of the seeming randomness and size of the list, but if my boys were younger, I suspect I’d favor finding somewhere else to live — though my husband would probably feel differently. Glad to know that ultimately it has worked out for you all and that you are now safely ensconced in your new home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yikes! Glad you’re in the new house and all is well.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thats scary and I had the same thing happen to me, the FBI and NYC Police showed up at my door to tell me that I was on that same list. I know the feeling well, the fear, disbelief. Glad all are ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jimcaudill says:

    Honestly, I think I would have moved to another apartment since you were temps anyway — and with all the travel you do, it would just be like another FAM trip….

    Liked by 1 person

  5. talkavino says:

    this is terrible that we have to deal with all this sh!t. I think I would take my chances and do nothing, knowing that I will be moving out soon, but then I have no idea what I would actually do if actually presented with such an issue in the real life. “sucks” doesn’t even describe it. Glad you are out in your own house.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beth says:

    Wow. I would have moved to another apartment. I can’t imagine making this decision with children in mind.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I would have moved I’m pretty sure.


  8. Wow! That is terrifying! My instinct would be to move to another apartment immediately, whether in the same complex or a different one. I am so glad you and your family are out of there and in your new home!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Would like to say that I/we would have stayed in the apartment but of course I don’t know as it didn’t happen to me. Glad you’re ok and hope it wasn’t too stressful a time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. dwdirwin says:

    Being that it was “protocol” to inform you and that no one that has been on the list has been harmed we probably would have stayed and put the heat on the contractors to finish the new house 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I would have questioned why the apartment manager did not disclose this to you, and if he didn’t know either then why the hell did the FBI not inform him???

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ChgoJohn says:

    So very glad that you’re in your new home and away from this insanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Chuck says:


    I am a little behind reading an commenting, but my take on this is you have to remember they are terrorist. The key there is terror, if we all get scared, and change they win. A number of years ago we had plans to go to NYC for the Thanksgiving Day parade and several week before the trip terrorist set off a bomb in Time Square at the recruiting station there. My wife was the “maybe we shouldn’t go” person. We went, if we let them force us to be scared , they win.

    I hope you enjoying Texas, have you made it to a Specs yet? Much different that the Penn Liquor board stores.


  14. Could not agree more! Thanks for the comment. Specs is great and the H.E.B. is not too shabby either!


  15. SAHMmelier says:

    Such a sad world in too many ways…I’m so glad this story has a hay ending. Grateful to have you in here and hope to connect soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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