An alleged Kosovan hacker was arrested after Malaysian authorities received a tip from the United States that he is a cyberterrorist helping ISIS.
The hacker’s name is Ardit Ferizi, and he is accused of using the hacker handle, “Th3Dir3ctorY.” According to an unsealed criminal complaint, Ferizi is suspected of being the leader of a Kosovan hacking group known as Kosova Hacker’s Security (KHS).
It is alleged that KHS contains a hacker group “which is responsible for compromising government private websites in Israel, Serbia, Greece, the Ukraine and elsewhere.”
In an interview with CNN, Malaysian law enforcement authorities said that Ferizi entered Malaysia on a student visa to complete studies in computer science and computer forensics at a college in Kuala Lumpur. He is currently being held in custody on a provisional warrant ahead of his extradition hearing.
Included in the criminal complaint are allegations that Ferizi accessed the server of an Internet company responsible for maintaining the website of a United States retailer. The complaint claims this occurred in June 2015. From inside the retailer’s network, Ferizi is said to have located and accessed personally identifiable information (“PII”) of “approximately 100,000 people.”
Ferizi then “provided the PII of approximately 1,351 U.S. military and other government personnel” to ISIS, with the intentions that the information would be used to target these individuals for attacks.
Specifically, the data collected by Ferizi was provided to British passport holders who were members of ISIS including Tariq Hamayun, a mechanic from the West Midlands and Junaid Hussein, a jihadi “hacktivist” who was recently killed in a United States drone attack.
The company that was attacked did not report the problem to the FBI until late summer, when the federal agency initiated its investigation. Shortly after the breach was reported and damage control had begun, it is claimed that Ferizi tried to extort two Bitcoin (then worth approximately $500) from the hacked retail company.
He reportedly wrote the company that, “I will make full report for server and method . . . i will protect and remove al bug on your shop!”
United States assistant attorney general John Carlin stated that, “As alleged, Ardit Ferizi is a terrorist hacker who provided material support to [ISIS] by stealing the personally identifiable information of U.S. service members and federal employees and providing it to [ISIS] for use against those employees.”
Carlin continued that, “This case is a first of its kind and, with these charges, we seek to hold Ferizi accountable for his theft of this information and his role in [ISIS’] targeting of U.S. government employees. This arrest demonstrates our resolve to confront and disrupt [ISIS’] efforts to target Americans, in whatever form and wherever they occur.”
If Ferizi is convicted on charges of “providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization,” computer hacking related to the theft and distribution of United States military and federal employees’ personal information, he could face a prison sentence of up to 35 years.