In first, ISIS-linked hacker extradited to US

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The first hacker arrested for allegedly helping the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been extradited to the U.S.

Ardit Ferizi, a 20-year-old Kosovo citizen, made his initial appearance in court on Wednesday afternoon in the Eastern District of Virginia.

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Ferizi is accused of hacking an American company to steal sensitive data on over 1,300 U.S. military and government employees. Malaysian authorities arrested Ferizi in October on Justice Department charges of providing material support to ISIS.

“This case is a first of its kind,” assistant attorney general John Carlin said in a statement when Ferizi was arrested.

According to the department, Ferizi waived extradition. If convicted, he could face up to 35 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Ferizi is the source of one of the most high-profile ISIS hacking incidents of all time.

In August, an ISIS hacking group released a “kill list” of what it claimed was the personally identifiable information for roughly 1,300 U.S. military and government personnel. While much of the information — home addresses, phone numbers, emails Facebook chats, credit card numbers, even photos — was outdated or incorrect, some of it was validated by media outlets.

The department claims Ferizi was the one who digitally pilfered this data and passed it along to Junaid Hussain, one of ISIS’s top online recruiters and a leader of the so-called CyberCaliphate, another ISIS hacking team.

Hussain was killed in an airstrike later that month.

Ferizi’s arrest and Hussain’s death are part of a potential increased Pentagon focus on ISIS’s tech-savvy members. In December, a U.S. drone strike also took out a lesser-known ISIS hacker, Siful Haque Sujan.

ISIS’s digital warriors have gained attention over the last year by defacing media outlets’ websites, taking over high-profile Twitter accounts and even stealing credit card data.

The unexpected digital achievements have provided the group with valuable propaganda that the U.S. has struggled to counter.