A Syrian national appeared before a U.S. federal court in Alexandria, Virginia Tuesday to face charges he hacked the American enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Peter Romar, the Syrian national, was extradited to the U.S. from Germany, for charges including extortion and hacking. Romar showed up to court wearing just a T-shirt and jeans.
He reportedly was part of the infamous Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), a pro-Assad force that broke into computers belonging to Human Rights Watch and Harvard University, The Associated Press reports.
The Syrian Electronic Army, based on information from an FBI affidavit, also targeted The Washington Post, the White House, Reuters, The Associated Press and other outlets of acclaim like satirical website The Onion — which the group perceived to forward the anti-Assad agenda of U.S. foreign policy.
In one of the group’s most notorious hits, the Syrian Electronic Army temporarily seized control of The Associated Press’ Twitter account and tweeted out that someone bombed the White House, injuring President Barack Obama in the process. The news caused the stock market to plummet momentarily.
Two other men believed to be involved in the SEA are Ahmad Umar Agha and Firas Dardar, both of whom are in Syria. The FBI has said it will offer $100,000 for information that leads to their arrests.
SEA primarily relied on spear-phishing techniques to get users to give login details to social media accounts and other sites.
A Department of Justice statement from March revealed exactly what SEA would do with login information:
When the conspiracy’s spear-phishing efforts were successful, Agha and Dardar would allegedly use stolen usernames and passwords to deface websites, redirect domains to sites controlled or utilized by the conspiracy, steal email and hijack social media accounts.
In one case, SEA breached a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting site and encouraged Marines to “refuse [their] orders.”
“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 General Carlin in March. “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 allegations in the complaint demonstrate that the line between ordinary criminal hackers and potential national security threats is increasingly blurry.”
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