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US Indicts 'Syrian Electronic Army' for Computer Hacking

  • VOA News

This two-picture combo of wanted posters provided by the FBI shows Ahmed al-Agha, left, and Firas Dardar. The Justice Department has indicted current or former members of the Syrian Electronic Army for computer hacking-related conspiracies.

This two-picture combo of wanted posters provided by the FBI shows Ahmed al-Agha, left, and Firas Dardar. The Justice Department has indicted current or former members of the Syrian Electronic Army for computer hacking-related conspiracies.

The U.S. Justice Department has indicted three members of the so-called "Syrian Electronic Army," a group it says was dedicated to compromising the computer systems of the U.S. government, international groups and media organizations it regarded as being antagonistic towards the Syrian regime.

The Justice Department says Ahmad Agha, 22, Firas Dardar, 27, and Peter Romar, 36, were charged with criminal conspiracy. None are in custody.

Their alleged crimes include: engaging in a hoax regarding a terrorist attack; attempting to cause mutiny of the U.S. armed forces; illicit possession of authentication features; access device fraud; unauthorized access to, and damage of, computers; and unlawful access to stored communications.

Dardar and Romar were separately charged with multiple counts of conspiracy for extortion, money laundering, wire fraud and violating Syrian regime sanctions.

"The Syrian Electronic Army publicly claims that its hacking activities are conducted in support of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad," said Assistant Attorney for National Security General John Carlin.

"While some of the activity sought to harm the economic and national security of the United States in the name of Syria, these detailed allegations reveal that the members also used extortion to try to line their own pockets at the expense of law-abiding people all over the world."

The DOJ says that starting in 2011, Agha and Dardar allegedly used stolen usernames and passwords to deface websites, redirect domains to sites under their control, and steal email and hijack social media accounts.

Some of the most notorious of these hacks included the twitter accounts of The Associated Press, the BBC, al-Jazeera and the French News Agency's photo department.

It says, however, that by 2013, Dardar and Romar began hacking online businesses in the United States for personal profit.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations has added Agha and Dardar to its list of Cyber Most Wanted and offered $100,000 for information leading to their arrest.

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