The man blamed for stealing personal information of approximately 1,400 military members and federal employees and providing the information to members of the Islamic State has been arrested in Malaysia, according the Justice Department.
Authorities announced Thursday that Malaysian authorities have Kosovo citizen Ardit Ferizi in custody and U.S. officials say they plan to extradite him to the United States to face criminal charges.
In August, the personal information of military members and federal employees was posted online by the Islamic State’s “hacking division,” which encouraged supporters to track down and attack those whose information was revealed.
Mr. Ferizi obtained the personal information — which included names, email addresses, phone numbers and passwords to online accounts — by hacking into the server of a private retail company, according to the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He stole personal information for more than 100,000 customers of the company, though the criminal complaint states that only the information for approximately 1,351 military and federal government employees was turned over to the Islamic State.
He faces charges including providing material support to the Islamic State, and computer hacking and identity theft violations.
Mr. Ferizi is known by hacking moniker “Th3Dir3ctorY,” and officials believed he is leader of a Kosovar internet hacking group called Kosova Hacker’s Security. According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Mr. Ferizi was living in Malaysia on a student visa when he hacked into the company’s server.
According to the Justice Department, Mr. Ferizi provided the data he obtained from the server to Islamic State member Junaid Hussain, aka Abu Hussain al-Britani, between June and August. The 30-page document was posted on the Islamic State Hacking Division Twitter account with the message “NEW: U.S. Military AND Government HACKED by the Islamic State Hacking Division!”
“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,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin.
Al-Britani was reportedly killed by a U.S. drone strike in Syria at the end of August.
If convicted of all the crimes he is accused of, Mr. Ferizi faces up to 35 years in prison.