Federal prosecutors have charged a Kosovo man they believe is responsible for assembling an ISIS “kill list” of more than 1,000 military personnel and U.S. government employees, NBC News has learned.
The list was distributed through ISIS social media in August. The Justice Department alleges that Ardit Ferizi, aka “Th3Dir3ctorY,” a Kosovo citizen residing in Malaysia, was responsible for hacking into an online retailer, stealing personal information, and publishing a list of government employees.
The server for the online retailer, not further identified in the complaint, was located in Phoenix, Arizona.
The complaint, filed by the US Attorney in Alexandria, Virgina, states the information was used to compile a list of 1,351 government employees, including military personnel, “to be used by ISIS members and supporters to conduct terrorist attacks against the U.S. government employees whose names and locations were published.”
Ferizi faces charges of providing material support to ISIS along with computer related offenses.
Government officials say Ferizi was recently arrested in Malaysia and is expected to be extradited to Virginia for arraignment.
The complaint further charges that Ferizi contacted ISIS to provide them with the 1,351 names. The list was then tweeted out by Abu Hussain Al Britani, then the master of ISIS social media efforts, on August 11, 2015.
At the time, the list was attributed the “Islamic State Hacktivist Division.”
Al Britani was killed 13 days later in a U.S. drone strike. He’s also known for: inspiring the Garland, Texas, ISIS attack on a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest; communicating and collaborating with four men in New York and New Jersey who allegedly expressed allegiance to ISIS and were later indicted for material support of terrorism; and well communicating over the Internet with Usaama Rahim who was on his way to kill police in Boston when he was shot to death by the FBI and Boston Police.
When Al Britaini tweeted a link to the list, he stated in part, that they would “soon with the permission of Allah will strike at your necks in your own lands!”
Over the last year, U.S. officials, concerned about how many names have shown up on such terrorist lists, have warned military personnel to guard their social media profiles.
“While these individuals never demonstrated an extremely high level of technical sophistication that we typically associate with state-sponsored actors in China or Russia, they were able to successfully use crude but effective data mining techniques to gather outwardly relatively innocuous information that, when put into the wrong hands, could be quite harmful,” said Evan Kohlmann, a terrorism analyst for NBC News.
Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said in an statement Thursday night that, “as alleged, Ardit Ferizi is a terrorist hacker who provided material support to ISIL (ISIS) by stealing the personally identifiable information of U.S. service members and federal employees and providing it to ISIL for use against those employees.”
After a conflict between Yugoslav forces of Serbia and Albanian rebels in 1999, NATO intervened with air strikes bombing Serbian forces of Yugoslavia for 78 days, in a bid to stop the massacre and ethnic cleansing of Serb forces against Kosovo Albanians, a violence, which had caused a wide rebellion in the region.
NATO’s intervention eventually forced the Serbian Parliament to grant political autonomy for Kosovo, while keeping it within its territorial borders. Nine years after the war, Kosovo declared its independence, but its status as the self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, has been recognised only by the 111 countries of the 193 member states of the United Nations.
Serbia has not recognised Kosovo’s independence, but in August it signed key agreements to normalise ties, a condition for its own EU accession.
Kosovo is the poorest and most isolated country in Europe, with millionaires politicians steeped in crime. A third of the workforce is unemployed, and corruption is widespread. About two in three under the age of 25 are currently unemployed, and nearly 50% of the 1.8 million citizens of Kosovo are considered to be poor. During last December only, more then 200-thousands of Kosovars were forced to leave the country in an effort to find a better life, studies and more dignified jobs.
The country is ranked of those ‘partially free’ at ‘Freedom House’s freedom index. Press freedoms and human rights are at its stake. Last October was confirmed the ninth suspicious death of a member of media personnel whose perpetrators enjoy the impunity. EU Progress Report of 2015 qualifies its justice system with very low performance and highly influenced by outlawed forces.
NATO files published in 2011 in international media, showed that the United States and some other Western powers who supported Kosovo’s government has extensive knowledge (for a few years!) of the criminal connections of former head of rebels and also PDK leader Hashim Thaçi and some members of other political parties in the country.
June elections 2014 marked also the death of two well known political activists; Elvis Pista an elected MP of ruling PDK, as well as the secretary of ‘Vetëvendosje Arbënor Dehari whose death went very silently. These unreported casualties resulted after the political tensions rose between the ‘opposition united coalition front’ and ruling PDK party in the aftermath of the elections.
Hundreds of youth Kosovar participate in various Middle Eastern armed conflicts. Kosovo’s independent journalist Vedat Xhymshiti investigated the subject of terrorism, but out of a sudden due to his interest in the subject, he ended being ensiled at the US Government target, as his findings suggest significant prove of allegations of involvement of national and foreign state authorities to encourage the youth of the country to join the ranks of armed terrorist groups involved in crimes and war crimes against humanity across the Middle Eastern desert.