In October of last year, Malaysian authorities arrested Ardit Ferizi, 20, of Kosovo, on charges of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system and passing along the personal information of more than 1,000 U.S. security personnel to the Islamic State (IS).
The computer criminal has since made his first appearance in an American court after being extradited to the United States.
We now go back several years to appreciate the full extent of Ferizi’s crimes.
In 2014, Ferizi first came to Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur in order to study computer science.
Although still a student, the Kosovo citizen had already made a name for himself in the world of computer crime by that time.
Jeff Stone of International Business Times writes that, Ferizi had used the alias “Th3Dir3ctorY” as a member of Kosova’s Hacker’s Security – a Kosovo hacking group that has taken credit for over 20,000 attacks against a number of high-profile targets, including Interpol, IBM’s security research division, and thousands of pro-Serbian government profiles.
A criminal complaint filed against Ferizi alleges that between July and August of 2014, the Kosovo citizen cracked a computer server of an American online retailer and stole the personal information, which included names, physical addresses, passwords, email addresses, and phone numbers, of 1,351 U.S. military personnel.
The complaint states that the computer criminal then passed along the information to IS member Junaid Hussain, aka Abu Hussain al-Britani, who in August posted that information on Twitter and called upon fellow IS supporters to kill the exposed American servicemen and women.
Hussain was killed later that same month in an airstrike, reports Cory Bennett of The Hill, a hit which in conjunction with Ferizi’s arrest might suggest that the United States is cracking down on the terrorist organization’s digital presence.
On Wednesday, Ferizi made an appearance in a federal district court based in Alexandria, Virginia before Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis.
Matt Zapotosky of The Washington Post writes that Judge Davis appointed the public defender’s office to represent Ferizi, who only said “yes, sir” during the course of his appearance. He is due back in court on Friday.
For his crimes related to aiding the Islamic State, Ferizi faces a number of charges, including providing material support to a terrorist organization and aggravated identity theft.
If convicted, the computer criminal faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.
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