FBI investigating potential ISIS threats to UFC middleweight Tim Kennedy
Tim Kennedy says the FBI has been looking into a potential threat made against him by ISIS and how the situation all started during an interaction on Twitter.
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
By Damon Martin
UFC middleweight and noted Army Ranger Tim Kennedy says he got a visit from the FBI this week to discuss potential threats against the fighter by ISIS.
According to Kennedy, the dust-up started over Twitter, where he routinely receives some distasteful messages, often revolving around his years spent in the Army and for his outspoken demeanor when it comes to the military.
Lately, however, Kennedy has been receiving more than a few alarming messages that included graphic photos that he says originated from the Middle East. That ultimately sent a red flag to the FBI that the threats made against him could be very, very real.
"I'm an outspoken guy, Michael (Bisping) is an outspoken guy and we've got a lot of guys that hate us," Kennedy said when speaking to Bisping on his Sirius XM show "The Countdown" this week. "So people get on and say 'Oh you suck' and that's normal, but now because of what I do in my primary job -- outside of fighting is being a Special Forces sniper, a Green Beret and a Ranger -- that brings a whole different realm of haters, and these are really nasty people. I have guys hit me up every morning -- 'How many babies did you kill this month?' -- and that's, to me, now normal.
"What has been unique and now changing in the last few months since maybe October of last year, I started to get very deliberate, specific threats. Like it's a picture of a beheaded American, 'This is what I'm going to do to you.' So the FBI got concerned because of the content, the images they weren't like copied off the Internet and then sent to me -- these were the actual, original photographs that were taken."
Kennedy says the situation escalated in no small part because of one particular Twitter member whom he engaged in a back-and-forth war of words. Over time he says the threats got more and more specific, which only raised the level of concern.
Kennedy says the FBI was shocked at how little he seemed to worry about this potentially dangerous altercation and interaction with a possible member of ISIS, but the UFC middleweight just refused to back down even in the face of a potential threat.
"That started to get kind of heavy in October/November and then I started to have banter with a particular one and I was like 'Hey dude, you've been trying to take this head for 12 years.' My first deployment was 10 years ago to the Middle East probably fighting your cousins. I said nasty things to him. He came back with some nastiness and it just kept escalating and they were really horrible images," Kennedy described.
"The problem is I've been doing this for 13 years, I've been Special Forces for 13 years, and maybe I'm a little desensitized to that. So the FBI said if anyone else would have received a threat like that, they would have freaked out. A normal person would have said 'Oh my god', they're calling 911 -- and the problem is you've been doing this and you don't know what's normal. This is bad."
Things got so heated at one point, Kennedy says the FBI was worried that a threat could have been looming close by to his home area in Texas and that ultimately led to their investigation into the messages he had been receiving.
"They had some other concerns about where they could be regionally, it could be not too far from where I live, so that escalated the scale of concern," Kennedy said.
Ultimately, Kennedy says he's not going to back down from any threats he might receive, whether it's over Twitter or elsewhere. He says he even sent out another message on his social-media accounts this past week taunting the group.
"To fight ISIS, we have to fight the ideology and we have to end it, we have to destroy everything about it," Kennedy said. "They're winning the war by using fear and that's what terrorism is. It's to achieve an objective by using fear or force, so don't fear them.
"What do you have to do to the bully? The bully stops being the bully the first time he's punched in the nose and then he turns into a p--sy."