Employee at Federal Agency in Gaithersburg on Suspected ISIS Hit List - NBC4 Washington
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Employee at Federal Agency in Gaithersburg on Suspected ISIS Hit List

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    News4 learned that a woman who works for NIST in Montgomery County was named on a suspected ISIS hit list. Scott MacFarlane has the story. (Published Monday, Dec. 21, 2015)

    An employee of a high-tech federal research agency in Montgomery County was listed on a suspected hit list by the terror group ISIS.

    The woman, whose name has not been publicly released, is an employee at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce with a large campus and thousands of employees near Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg.

    News4 has obtained federal law enforcement records showing the FBI investigated the case and warned the employee of the threat. Security was increased for the worker and no known connection to ISIS was revealed, according to police reports.

    The employee was advised to notify internal agency police about her "arrivals and departures from (the) NIST campus," according to law enforcement records.

    The threat was first revealed to the employee in August, News4 has learned.

    "When we get any information regarding any sort of threat against a person or business, criminal or national security in nature, we alert those people or businesses," an FBI spokeswoman told News4. "We have a duty to warn anyone who the threat was made against, and we do all we can to mitigate it."

    The NIST campus is heavily secured, with police checkpoints guarding entrances. Tall fences and video surveillance surround the perimeter. Public access is restricted.

    Multiple purported ISIS hit lists have surfaced online in recent months, one of which included more than 1,400 names. In another instance, members of the military were named.

    "We have followed FBI protocols in addressing this situation and have shared the relevant and important security information with all parties involved," a NIST spokeswoman said. "As always, the safety and protection of our employees are essential to NIST and the Department of Commerce."

    The police reports reviewed by News4 specify the NIST employee has no ties to ISIS.

    James Carifano, a homeland security analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation, said ISIS hit lists are not predictors of future attacks.

    "(Hit lists) are a phenomenon that have been here for years," Carifano said. "It's been here awhile. It's the new normal."

    Carifano said, "Does it increase the likelihood of a lone wolf attack? There's no data to suggest that."

    Montgomery County council member Craig Rice, whose district includes part of the NIST campus and agency workforce, said the ISIS hit list revelation underscores the importance of vigilance by public safety officials and citizens in Maryland.

    "With the rise of ISIS, it's important for us to be proactive and not reactive, working with federal partners to have a (security) plan in place," Rice said.