ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Ardit Ferizi, also known as Th3Dir3ctorY, pleaded guilty Wednesday to providing material support to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a foreign terrorist organization.
Ferizi admitted to stealing personal identifiable information of over 1,000 United States service members and federal employees. He provided the information to ISIL so they could incite terrorist attacks against the individuals.
“Ferizi endangered the lives of over 1,000 Americans,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Cyber terrorism has become an increasingly prevalent and serious threat here in America, both to individuals and businesses. However, cyber terrorist are no different from other terrorists: No matter where they hide, we will track them down and seek to bring them to the United States to face justice.”
Ferizi, 20, is from Kosovo. He was detained by Malaysian authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the U.S. and was charged by criminal complaint on October 6, 2015. Ferizi waved extradition.
Ferizi admitted that around June 13, 2015, he gained administrator-level access to a server that had the personal identifiable information of tens of thousands of the victim company’s customers.
Between June and August 2015, Ferizi provided the information to ISIL member Junaid Hussain, also known as Abu Hussain al-Britani.
A statement of facts says that on August 11, 2015, Hussain posted a tweet in the name of the Islamic State Hacking Division that contained a document with the personal information of approximately 1,300 U.S. military and other personnel. Ferizi provided Hussain with the information taken from the victim company.
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 personal information to ISIL with the understanding that ISIL would use the information to “hit them hard.”
Ferizi could spend up to 25 years in prison. He will be sentenced on September 16.
As part of the plea, Ferizi agreed to a stipulated order of removal to his country of citizenship, Kosovo, after completing his criminal sentence.