War on Terrorism

Friday, September 23, 2016

ISIL-Linked Kosovo Hacker Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison



WASHINGTON – 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), a designated foreign terrorist organization, and accessing a protected computer without authorization and obtaining information in order to provide material support to ISIL.

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

"This case represents the first time we have seen the very real and dangerous national security cyber threat that results from the combination of terrorism and hacking,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “This was a wake-up call not only to those of us in law enforcement, but also to those in private industry. This successful prosecution also sends a message to those around the world that, if you provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations and assist them with their deadly attack planning, you will have nowhere to hide.  As this case shows, we will reach half-way around the world if necessary to hold accountable those who engage in this type of activity. I want to thank the corporation that worked with law enforcement to solve this crime, and the agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked on this groundbreaking case."

Ferizi, who was detained by Malaysian authorities on a provisional arrest warrant on behalf of the U.S., was charged by criminal complaint on Oct. 6, 2015. The criminal complaint was unsealed on Oct. 15, 2015. Ferizi subsequently consented to extradition.

Ferizi pleaded guilty on June 15. According to court documents, Ferizi admitted that on or about June 13, 2015, he gained system administrator-level access to a server that hosted the website of a U.S. victim company. The website 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. Ferizi subsequently culled the PII belonging to U.S. military members and other government personnel, which totaled approximately 1,300 individuals. That same day, on June 13, Ferizi provided the PII belonging to the 1,300 U.S. military members and government personnel to Junaid Hussain, a now-deceased ISIL recruiter and attack facilitator. Ferizi and Hussain discussed publishing the PII of those 1,300 victims in a hit list.

According to court documents, 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.”

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ahmad Khan Rahami Charged in Manhattan and New Jersey Federal Courts with Executing Bombings in New York City and New Jersey



Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, FBI Director James B. Comey, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey, Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney of the FBI's New York Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher of the FBI's Newark Field Office and Commissioner James O’Neill of the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced that Ahmad Khan Rahami, aka Ahmad Rahimi, has been charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, for conducting and attempting to conduct bombings in New York City and various locations in New Jersey on Sept. 17, 2016, and Sept. 18, 2016.

Rahami, 28, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, is charged in a complaint filed in the Southern District of New York with one count of using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of destroying and attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(d), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and use of a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison, all in connection with Rahami’s alleged detonation of an explosive device and efforts to detonate explosives in New York City.

Rahami is also charged in a complaint filed in the District of New Jersey with two counts of using and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332a, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment on each count; one count of bombing and attempting to bomb a place of public use and public transportation system, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; one count of attempting to destroy property by means of fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and two counts of using a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, namely, the use and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), each count of which carries a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 30 years in prison and, if convicted of both counts, a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, all in connection with Rahami’s alleged efforts to detonate explosives in Seaside Park, New Jersey, and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Rahami will first be transported by the U.S. Marshals Service, pursuant to a writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to face the charges filed in the Southern District of New York.  More than 30 people were injured as a result of the detonation of a bomb in the Chelsea area of New York City.

Assistant Attorney General Carlin and U.S. Attorneys Bharara and Fishman praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD, and the FBI’s New Jersey Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

The prosecution in the Southern District of New York is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicholas J. Lewin, Emil J. Bove III, Andrew J. DeFilippis and Shawn G. Crowley, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The prosecution in the District of New Jersey is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Dennis C. Carletta, Francisco J. Navarro, Margaret Ann Mahoney and James M. Donnelly, with assistance from Trial Attorney Brian Morgan of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

The charges contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Releases Counterterrorism Guide



DHS has released The Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team (JCAT) 2016 Counterterrorism Guide for Public Safety Personnel.  The guide is designed to assist first responders, emergency services and security personnel in identifying, preventing, reporting and responding to terrorism.
The guide highlights:
  • Terrorist attack planning cycle.
  • Importance of identifying and reporting suspicious activity.
  • Precursors of violent extremism.
  • Specific terrorist tactics, techniques and procedures that may be used against public safety personnel.
  • Additional reference material related to terrorist groups, improvised explosive devices, chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear devices and the Incident Command System.
This guide has been designated public safety sensitive, and copies will be released only to vetted public safety professionals. To obtain a copy, please email your request to asknlectc@justnet.org from an official agency email address, and provide your name, title, agency name and contact information.