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Press Release

ISIL-Linked Hacker Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Ardit Ferizi, aka Th3Dir3ctorY, 20, a citizen of Kosovo, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and accessing a protected computer without authorization and obtaining information in order to provide material support to ISIL.

According to court documents, Ferizi admitted that on or about June 13, 2015, he gained system administrator-level access to a server that maintained the website of a victim company located in the United States, which also contained databases with personally identifiable information (PII) belonging to tens of thousands of the victim company’s customers, including members of the military and other government personnel. He subsequently culled the PII belonging to United States military members and other government personnel, which totaled approximately 1,300 individuals. That same day, on June 13, 2015, Ferizi admitted that he provided the PII belonging to the 1,300 United States military members and government personnel to Junaid Hussain, aka Abu Hussain al-Britani, a now-deceased member of ISIL.

According to the statement of facts, on Aug. 11, 2015, in the name of the Islamic State Hacking Division (ISHD), Hussain posted a tweet that contained a document with the PII of the approximately 1,300 U.S. military and other government personnel that Ferizi had taken from the victim company and provided to Hussain.  The 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!”  Ferizi admitted that he provided the PII to ISIL with the understanding that ISIL would use the PII to “hit them hard.”

Ferizi was detained by Malaysian authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the United States and was charged by criminal complaint on Oct. 6, 2015.  The criminal complaint was unsealed on Oct. 15, 2015, and Ferizi subsequently waived consent to extradition.  Ferizi pleaded guilty on June 15, 2016.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Florida, Division, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. 

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Van Grack and Trial Attorney Gregory Gonzalez of the National Security Division’s (NSD) Counterterrorism Section. The Malaysian authorities and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs also provided significant assistance.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:16-cr-42.

Updated September 23, 2016

National Security