Hacker Who Made ISIS ‘Kill List’ Sentenced To 20 Years
The 20-year-old former student said he knew ISIS intended to use the names to target the U.S. government
A 20-year-old hacker who leaked the personal information of around 1,300 U.S. military and government officials for use in an ISIS “kill list” has been sentenced to 20 years in prison at a federal court in Virginia.
The Department of Justice said Ardit Ferizi, a former computer science student from Kosovo in eastern Europe, pleaded guilty to feeding personal details that included names, phone numbers, emails and passwords to a now deceased ISIS recruiter.
The recruiter, Junaid Hussain, from England, published the names on August 11, 2015 as an ISIS “kill list,” and threatened that members of the terrorist organization planned to “strike at your necks in your own lands.”
Ferizi, who used the pseudonym “Th3Dir3ctorY,” obtained the details by breaching the server of an unnamed private company in mid-June, 2015. He accessed the details of “tens of thousands” of customers in order to find the personal information of approximately 1,300 U.S. military and government officials, said the Department of Justice.
According to the statement, Ferizi admitted in court that he knew ISIS intended to use the list to “hit [those named] hard.”
Hacking groups affiliated with ISIS have posted many ISIS “kill lists” naming U.S. citizens, including at least eight between March and May, according to one report. While some lists target political and economic elite, others have appeared to name individuals at random. Some so-called “kill lists” are just re-packaged data that’s freely available online, and counterterrorism officials have argued against taking such lists seriously.
Ferizi was arrested in Malaysia on behalf of U.S. authorities later in 2015, and agreed to be extradited to the U.S., where he pleaded guilty to the hacking, and for providing the information he stole to ISIS.
Hussain, who published the “kill list” on Twitter on behalf of a pro-ISIS hacking group called the Islamic State Hacking Division (ISHD), was killed in a U.S. airstrike weeks later, The New York Times reported.