Malaysian authorities have arrested a man over charges of hacking and allegedly providing personal information of more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel and federal employees to the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. The man has been identified as Ardit Ferizi, a Kosovo citizen, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ferizi, believed to be in his 20s, was taken in custody on Sept. 15, Malaysian national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement late Thursday, according to the Associated Press, adding that investigations showed that he was in contact with a senior ISIS leader in Syria.
"Early investigation found the suspect communicated with one of the right hand man (leader) of IS terrorist group in Syria to hack a few servers containing information and details of U.S securities personnel and team," Malaysian police said, according to Reuters. "The details were then transferred to the operation unit of the IS group for further action."
Ferizi, who entered Malaysia in August 2014 to study computer science and forensics at a private institute in the capital Kuala Lumpur, will stand trial after being extradited to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia on charges of computer hacking and identity theft violations, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement late Thursday. If convicted, he could face up to 35 years in prison, the justice department said.
Ferizi, who is known by his hacking moniker "Th3Dir3ctorY," is believed to be the leader of an Internet hacking group called Kosova Hacker's Security.
Between June and August 2015, Ferizi allegedly provided the stolen information to Junaid Hussain, also known as Abu Hussain al-Britani, a key member and hacker for ISIS, who is believed to have been killed in late August. Earlier in August, Hussain posted a tweet with the title “NEW: U.S. Military AND Government HACKED by the Islamic State Hacking Division,” which contained a hyperlink to a 30-page document.
“That document stated, in part, that ‘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 khilafah, who soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands,’” the statement read.
The post was intended to provide ISIS supporters in the U.S. and elsewhere with the personal information of the listed military and federal employees for encouraging terrorist attacks against those individuals, according to the statement.
“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 U.S. government employees. This arrest demonstrates our resolve to confront and disrupt ISIL’s efforts to target Americans, in whatever form and wherever they occur,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, said in the statement.