DOJ has high hopes for ‘groundbreaking’ cyberterror case

DOJ has high hopes for ‘groundbreaking’ cyberterror case
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The Justice Department thinks that it is forging a new path for taking down terrorist hackers after the arrest of a Kosovo man allegedly aiding Islamic extremists.

The case against Ardit Ferizi is “groundbreaking,” according to John Carlin, the head of the department’s national security division.

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“It’s the first of its kind,” he said during a panel discussion at the Defense One summit on Monday, and “shows the complexity of the new threat that we face.”

According to federal charges, Ferizi was the leader of the hacking group that stole names, Social Security numbers and other personal data on thousands of Americans. From that, he gave extremists in the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) information about 1,000 U.S. federal employees and members of the military.

This summer, a top ISIS leader involved in the group’s Internet outreach posted online a 30-page document containing names, email addresses, passwords, locations and phone numbers of those military members and government workers.

According to Carlin, ISIS was urging its supporters to kill the people identified in the document.

For the Justice Department, the case highlights the important intersection between terrorists and hackers who would otherwise be prosecuted for criminal charges, Carlin said. Extremists groups such as ISIS have shown to be deft users of the Internet and social media sites, where they can spread their message and seek to recruit followers.

“This is a case of cyber terrorism,” Carlin said on Monday. “Someone who used cyber-enabled means to help a terrorist group.”

“This shows the threat we’re facing today.”

Ferizi was arrested in Malaysia last month and the U.S. government is looking to extradite him to face charges stateside.