A man has been arrested in Malaysia for providing sensitive information on more than a thousand US service members to the Islamic State group, according to US and Malaysian reports.
Malaysia authorities arrested Ardit Ferizi, a Kosovo citizen, in Malaysia. The charges and statement from the US Department of Justice allege Mr. Ferizi “committed computer hacking and identity theft violations in conjunction with the theft and release of personally identifiable information (PII) of US service members and federal employees.”
Investigations suggest Ferizi was in contact with a senior leader of Islamic State, according to Malaysian national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar. US and Malaysian authorities are in the process of negotiating his extradition to the United States where he would stand trial for hacking and identity theft.
Ferizi entered Malaysia in August 2014 on a student visa, to study computer science. He is believed to be the leader of Internet the hacking group Kosova Hacker’s Security, known online as “Th3Dir3ctorY.”
The security breach that Ferizi is suspected of orchestrating resulted in the leak of personal information of 1,351 US military and government personnel. The information was then given to Abu Hussain al-Britani, a member of Islamic State. On Aug. 11, Islamic State posted a tweet that linked to a 30-page document containing the personal information, according to the Justice Department statement.
The purpose of the document was to instill fear and prompt terrorist attacks against the individuals named, the Justice Department says, citing the passage from the document: “We are in your emails and computer systems, watching and recording your every move, we have your names and addresses.”
“This case is a first of it’s kind and with these charges, we seek to hold Ferizi accountable for his theft ... and his role in targets of US government employees,” John P. Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security, said in the statement.
Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country, has arrested more than 100 citizens this year due to links with Islamic State, according to Reuters. Malaysia has not had any significant terrorist attacks.
Malaysian authorities are increasing crackdowns on people suspected to have ties to the terrorist organization. The crackdown is likely spurred by 10 arrests made in August, six of which were members of Malaysia’s security forces linked to Islamic State.
This report includes material from The Associated Press and Reuters.