A 36-year-old Syrian national suspected of being a member of the Syrian Electronic Army hacktivist group ended up extradited to the United States from Germany, officials said.
Peter “Pierre” Romar, who had been living in the town of Waltershausen in Germany, ended up charged by U.S. authorities along with two others accused of being members of the hacker collective in March. The suspect will appear in a Virginia federal court on Tuesday, according to a report in The Washington Post.
The Syrian Electronic Army remains a supporter of the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad. Their targets include government organizations, media companies and other private-sector entities.
Ahmad Umar Agha, 22, aka “The Pro,” and Firas Dardar, 27, aka “The Shadow,” ended up charged for a criminal conspiracy relating to their hacktivism campaigns. However, Dardar and Romar face separately charges for activities that involved hacking into the systems of businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere in an effort to extort them.
The hackers stand accused of breaching the victim’s computer systems via spear phishing emails, and then threatened to damage devices and delete or sell data unless they received payment.
In at least one case, Dardar told the victim about his affiliation with the hacker group to convince them to pay up.
The hackers targeted 14 organizations between July 2013 and December 2014, officials said. They demanded over $500,000 from victims, but in some cases they accepted smaller amounts.
In one instance involving a Chinese online gaming company with servers in the United States, they initially demanded $50,000, but eventually lowered the ransom to $15,000.
Other victims include web hosting, online entertainment, and online media companies in the United States and Europe.
Romar acted as an intermediary when victims could not send money to Syrian bank accounts due to international sanctions regulations, officials said. In one case, the man received payment from a victim and forwarded the money to an intermediary in Lebanon.
When the Justice Department announced the charges against the Syrian Electronic Army hackers, Romar had already been arrested in Germany.
Agha and Dardar could be in Syria so their arrests will not an easy task, which is why authorities added them to the FBI’s most wanted list. The agency is offering up to $100,000 for information that leads to their arrest.