2 alleged Syrian hackers indicted on more charges

Data of German politicians and public figures leaked online

Two alleged Syrian hackers were indicted on additional charges by a Virginia federal grand jury Thursday, prosecutors announced.

Ahmad Umar Agha, who the Justice Department said was known online as “The Pro,” and Firas Dardar, who allegedly used the nickname “The Shadow,” were charged Thursday on 11 counts of conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

The men, according to the indictment, participated in the hacking as members of a group known as the “Syrian Electronic Army” or “SEA,” which supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Both men previously had been charged in 2014 and were put on the FBI’s Cyber Most Wanted list in 2016. They are not currently in custody, according to a law enforcement official. They are believed to be in Syria.

The group is blamed for an erroneous 2013 tweet from The Associated Press saying the White House had been bombed.

The men would allegedly trick people into handing over their usernames and passwords by sending emails as if they came from people they knew, using phishing techniques.

Employees within the Executive Office of the President, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The Associated Press, the Onion, CNN and USA Today, as well some other private companies, did hand over their information, according to prosecutors.

After gaining the information the men either used such access to obtain further property and information or allegedly deface the websites, redirect users to sites controlled by the two or hijack social media accounts.

Most of the alleged activities, according to the indictment, occurred in 2013.