US presidential election
US election 2016: Security beefed up as Isis calls for terror attack, hacker threat looms large. [Representational image]Creative Commons

The US Presidential election seems to be under a cloud of threat — both in the real and virtual world. For starters, the Islamic State group has reportedly called for a terrorist attack on voters on polling day, which happens to be November 8. Meanwhile, fears are also looming large that hackers could undermine the voting as well as the counting process. 

As a result of these threats, security has been stepped up both online and offline to keep these incidents from occurring. Russia — which has already been accused of leaking emails of the Democratic Party — has in fact been warned that any attempt by its hackers to influence the voting or counting would be construed as a serious breach. 

Threat from Isis

The Islamic State group — also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) — is currently on the back foot in Mosul — the second-largest city in Iraq and a former stronghold of the terror group — from where it is being systematically being driven out by the Iraqi Army and a coalition of forces led by the United States. The situation is such that even its top leaders are fleeing the scene, having helped themselves to the terror group's money.

Recently, SITE Intelligence Group Director Rita Katz tweeted that the group was now calling for terror attacks on polling day in the United States. It has also reportedly called for Muslims not to participate in the election process. Katz said in another tweet that Isis has also urged Muslims "to refuse participate in #Elections2016 and to announce that they 'have come to slaughter you and smash your ballot boxes'."

According to yet another of her tweets, the terror group has said "there is no difference between the Republican and Democratic parties in their 'policies against Islam and Muslims'." It may be noted that Republican candidate Donald Trump has been a vocal advocate of stopping Muslims from entering the country, and has gone so far as to even insult the parents of a Muslim soldier who laid down his life while fighting for the US.

Katz said in a final tweet that Isis was calling for the attack "in an attempt to disrupt the election process and gain media attention." Concerned agencies in the US have reportedly already put measures in place to prevent such an attack, or deal with it if it occurs notwithstanding their vigil. 

Cyber threat

Serious concerns have been expressed over possible attempts by hackers to sabotage or manipulate both the election and the counting processes, with the needle of suspicion swinging towards Russia.

However, the US is apparently well-prepared for such an eventuality, with the White House the US Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and others in the Defence Department ready to counter any attack of this sort.