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)