An alleged member of the Syrian Electronic Army has been extradited from Germany to the United States to face hacking-related charges. Two other wanted members of the group are believed to be at large in Syria.
Peter Romar, a Syrian national residing in Germany, was flown to the United States to face charges in a Virginia court, a US law enforcement official told news agency Reuters on Monday.
The 36-year-old alleged member of the hacking group sympathetic to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will appear on Tuesday in a US federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
The US Justice Department in March charged Romar alongside two other Syrian nationals with a host of hacking-related charges for targeting the US government, news media and private companies.
The other two members of the Syrian Electronic Army, Ahmad Umar Agha, 22, and Firas Dardar, 27, are believed to be living in Syria. They also face charges of creating "hoax regarding a terrorist attack" and "attempting to cause mutiny of the US armed forces."
The Syrian Electronic Army gained notoriety with a high profile hack in April 2013, when the accused hackers accessed the Associated Press Twitter account and tweeted false news of bomb explosions at the White House that injured President Barack Obama.
The tweet briefly caused the US stock market to plunge before correcting after it became apparent it was a hoax.
The SEA has also targeted CNN, BBC, al-Jazeera, Time magazine and Vice, among other media outlets. The group also targeted the website of Human Rights Watch as well as Microsoft and Harvard University, according to the US Justice Department.
The hackers also unsuccessfully attempted to access White House computer systems, court documents show. They were allegedly able to redirect the US Marine Corps recruiting website to another page urging potential recruits to refuse orders and join the Syrian Army.
Prosecutors allege SEO used spear-phishing, a common and unsophisticated hacking technique, in which deceptive emails are sent in the hopes the user will click on a malicious link.
Romar and Dardar were also separately charged in March for an extortion hacking scheme and wire fraud from 2013 to 2014. The Justice Department accuses the two of blackmailing hacking victims and transferring the payments to Syria. Prosecutors allege Romar acted as a middle-man in Germany due to US sanctions of transferring funds to Syria.
cw/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters)