Syrian Electronic Army put at top of FBI's Most Wanted list

23 Mar, 2016

$100,000 reward for SEA hackers known as 'Th3 Pr0' and 'The Shadow'

Two members of the Syrian Electronic Army have been placed at the top of the FBI's list of most wanted cyber criminals.

The agency is offering a reward of up to $100,000 (£70,583) each for information leading to the arrest of Ahmad Al Agha, who goes by the online handle of 'Th3 Pr0', and Firas Dardar, otherwise know as 'The Shadow'.

Dardar and Al Agha are both wanted in connection with "dozens of cyber attacks against United States government agencies, media organisations, and private organisations". Dardar is also suspected of orchestrating a number of online extortion schemes.

The pair are believed to operate on behalf of the Syrian Electronic Army, a cyber terrorism group with nebulous ties to the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

Although the group has undertaken numerous operations in support of the Syrian government, the relationship between the two has never been explicitly confirmed, and opinion remains divided as to whether it is officially sanctioned.

"While some of the activity sought to harm the economic and national security of the United States in the name of Syria," assistant attorney general for National Security John P Carlin said. "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."

Al Agha and Dardar have joined the list ahead of other cyber-criminals, including Eastern European racketeers and three members of the Chinese army.

People's Liberation Army officers Sun Kailiang, Huang Zhenyu and Wen Xinyu are charged with breaking into US companies' networks for the benefit of state-owned Chinese rivals.