KL police arrest ISIS-linked 'terrorist hacker' wanted by US

Malaysian police said they have arrested a man (centre), identified by the US as Kosovo citizen Ardit Ferizi, who is wanted for allegedly stealing data related to more than 1,000 US military and government personnel and providing the information to I
Malaysian police said they have arrested a man (centre), identified by the US as Kosovo citizen Ardit Ferizi, who is wanted for allegedly stealing data related to more than 1,000 US military and government personnel and providing the information to ISIS.PHOTO: ROYAL MALAYSIAN POLICE

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian police have arrested a "terrorist hacker" wanted by Washington for allegedly stealing data related to more than a thousand US military and government personnel, and providing the information to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

In a statement late on Thursday, Malaysian police said the 20-year- old man was arrested on Sept 15 and had arrived in the country last year to study computer science at a private university.

The US Department of Justice said in a statement on Thursday that it was seeking the extradition of the man, identified by the department as Kosovo citizen Ardit Ferizi, known by his hacking moniker "Th3Dir3ctorY".

"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 ISIL's targeting of US government employees," the statement quoted Assistant Attorney-General John Carlin as saying. ISIL is another name for ISIS.

The US Justice Department statement dubbed Ferizi "a terrorist hacker", saying he had submitted hacked data to an ISIS member, who then posted a 30-page document on Twitter containing "the names, e-mail addresses, e-mail passwords, locations and phone numbers for approximately 1,351 US military and other government personnel".

The Twitter message read: "NEW: U.S. Military AND Government HACKED by the Islamic State Hacking Division!"

"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 (caliphate), who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!" the document said, according to the US Justice Department.

The statement added that the document was meant for ISIS supporters in the US and elsewhere to use the data "belonging to the listed government employees for the purpose of encouraging terrorist attacks against those individuals".

The US complaint alleges that Ferizi gave the information to Junaid Hussain, a former leading member of the CyberCaliphate, an ISIS unit that broke into the US Central Command's Twitter and YouTube accounts this year.

Hussain was killed in a US drone strike in Syria in August.

Hussain's unit has been credited with the ISIS' adept use of social media to recruit fighters and spread propaganda. His activity was increasingly linked to plots carried out far from the battlefields in Syria and Iraq.

If found guilty in the US, the hacker could face up to 35 years in jail.

Over the past year, Malaysian police have arrested numerous suspects who they say were ISIS sympathisers plotting attacks in the country.

Malaysia's senior counter-terrorism official Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay told Agence France-Presse in June that the authorities had so far arrested 108 people who had suspected links to ISIS or were trying to travel to Syria or Iraq.

Muslim-majority Malaysia practises a moderate brand of Islam and has not seen any notable terror attacks in recent years.

But concern has risen in the multi-faith nation over growing hardline Islamic views and the country's potential as a militant breeding ground.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2015, with the headline 'KL police arrest ISIS-linked 'terrorist hacker' wanted by US'. Print Edition | Subscribe