by WorldTribune Staff, June 16, 2016
A hacker from Kosovo who provided the personal information of more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel and federal workers to Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) has pleaded guilty to material support of a designated terrorist organization.
Ardit Ferizi, aka Th3Dir3ctorY, 20, also pleaded guilty to accessing a protected computer without authorization and obtaining information, the U.S. Department of Justice reported on June 15.
“Ferizi admitted to stealing the personally identifiable information (PII) of over 1,000 U.S. servicemembers and federal employees, and providing it to ISIL with the understanding that they would incite terrorist attacks against those individuals,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin.
“The case against Ferizi is the first of its kind, representing the nexus of the terror and cyber threats,” Carlin said. “The National Security Division will continue to use an all-tools approach to combat this ever-evolving blended threat, and we will identify, disrupt and prosecute any individual who provides material support to ISIL, no matter how they do so.”
Ferizi was detained by Malaysian authorities on behalf of the United States and was charged on Oct. 6, 2015, the Justice Department said. Ferizi subsequently waived extradition.
“This case demonstrates the importance of strong partnerships with law enforcement agencies worldwide,” said Special Agent in Charge Michelle S. Klimt. “Cybercrime knows no boundaries and our efforts to dismantle these operations would be impossible without international collaboration.”
The hacker “admitted that on or about June 13, 2015, he gained administrator-level access to a server that maintained the website of a victim company located in the United States, which also contained databases with personally identifiable information (PII) belonging to tens of thousands of the victim company’s customers,” the Justice Department said.
The Justice report said that Ferizi, between June and August 2015, “provided unlawfully-obtained PII to ISIL member Junaid Hussain, aka Abu Hussain al-Britani. In the name of the Islamic State Hacking Division (ISHD), Hussain posted a tweet that contained a document with the PII of approximately 1,300 U.S. military and other personnel that Ferizi had taken from the victim company and provided to Hussain.”
The document posted by Hussaid stated, in part, that “we are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move, we have your names and addresses, we are in your emails and social media accounts, we are extracting confidential data and passing on your personal information to the soldiers of the khilafah, who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!”
Ferizi admitted that he provided the PII to ISIL with the understanding that ISIL would use the PII to “hit them hard.”
The Justice Department said that Ferizi, who will be sentenced on Sept. 16, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for providing material support to ISIL and a maximum sentence of five years for accessing a protected computer without authorization and obtaining information.
As part of his guilty plea, Ferizi also agreed to an order of removal to Kosovo, his country of citizenship, upon completion of his sentence.