Foreign hacker who aided Islamic State gets 20 years in US

MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) 09/23 — A computer hacker who helped the Islamic State by providing names of more than 1,000 U.S. government and military workers as potential targets was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

The sentence was much higher than the 6-year term sought by defense lawyers, who argued that their client, Ardit Ferizi, meant no real harm and is not a true supporter of the Islamic State.

“He was a nonsensical, misguided teenager who did not know what he was doing,” said public defender Elizabeth Mullin. “He has never embraced ISIL’s ideology.”

Ferizi, 20, a native of Kosovo who was arrested last year in Malaysia, is the first person convicted in the U.S. of both computer hacking and terrorism charges. He admitted hacking a private company and pulling out the names, email passwords and phone numbers of about 1,300 people with .gov and .mil addresses. The Islamic State published the names with a threat to attack.

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Ferizi struggled to explain why he did it, when asked directly by U.S. District judge Leonie Brinkema for an explanation. He said that it all happened very quickly.

“I feel so bad for what I did,” he said in Albanian-accented English. “I am very sorry for what I did, making people feel scared.”

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence of 25 years.

“The defendant’s conduct has indefinitely put the lives of 1,300 military members and government workers at risk,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack.

He disputed the idea that Ferizi’s crime was a whim. Before turning over the names to the “Islamic State Hacking Division” las year, he operated a website devoted to propagating the Islamic State’s propaganda. In online conversations, Ferizi defended the Islamic State, and when he gave the 1,300 identities to the Islamic State, he knew he was putting them in would-be terrorists’ crosshairs, Van Grack said.

“This was a hit list. The point was to find these individuals and hit them, to ‘strike at their necks,'” Van Grack said, mimicking the language the Islamic state used when it published the names.

Van Grack quoted a letter from one of the victims, who said she has an easily identifiable name and is now nervous when she interacts with Muslims, something she feels guilty about. And Van Grack cited another terror case in northern Virginia, in which the defendant, Haris Qamar, allegedly used a hit list, similar to the one that Ferizi created, to stake out the homes of two neighbors in the town of Burke.

Mullin countered that nobody on the list has actually been harmed, and said that much of the information Ferizi helped disseminate was publicly available anyway.

Court papers describe a difficult life for Ferizi, who was nominally raised as a Muslim and was just 4 years old when NATO airstrikes forced Serbian forces to withdraw from the territory, which subsequently became independent. Ferizi’s uncle was murdered and his father was kidnapped during the war, according to letters written by Ferizi’s family.

As a teenager, Ferizi got in trouble for hacking into Kosovar government databases, but he avoided jail. Ferizi went to Malaysia to study cybersecurity, but continued his hacking activities and developed worsening mental health problems, defense lawyers said.

He met an Islamic State recruiter over the internet while he was trying to expose online pedophiles, his lawyers said.

https://www.apnews.com/c3e83f707e7e47cd8c3ccb216b5225ed/Foreign-hacker-who-aided-Islamic-State-gets-20-years-in-US

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × 3 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.