June 15, 2016 / 5:35 PM / 3 years ago

Kosovar man pleads guilty in U.S. to helping Islamic State

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Kosovar citizen accused of hacking the personal data of more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel and officials pleaded guilty in a Virginia federal court on Wednesday to providing material support to Islamic State, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Ardit Ferizi, 20, who was also known as Th3Dir3ctorY, also pleaded guilty to accessing and obtaining information from a protected computer without authorization, the Justice Department said in a statement.

He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for providing material support to Islamic State and a maximum sentence of five years for accessing a protected computer without authorization, the statement said. Sentencing is set for Sept. 16.

Ferizi admitted to stealing the personally identifiable information of U.S. military personnel and federal employees and providing it to Islamic State with the understanding that they would incite terrorist attacks against those individuals, Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said.

Ferizi, who is believed to be the leader of a Kosovar internet hacking group, hacked the computer server of a U.S. online retailer and stole the personal identification information of 1,351 U.S. military personnel and federal officials, according to charging documents.

The criminal complaint said Ferizi provided the list to British hacker Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State member who linked to the list in an Aug. 11, 2015, tweet titled “NEW: U.S. Military AND Government HACKED by the Islamic State Hacking Division!”

Ferizi was extradited from Malaysia after being detained there in October on a U.S. provisional arrest warrant.

Reporting by David Alexander and Eric Beech; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Sandra Maler

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