DOJ charges two pro-Iranian hackers for targeting US websites as retaliation for Soleimani death – By Jerry Dunleavy (Washington Examiner) / Sept 15 2020
The Justice Department charged two computer hackers who are accused of targeting hundreds of websites worldwide to deface them with pro-Iranian messaging, in part as retaliation for the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in January.
Behzad Mohammadzadeh, a 19-year-old Iranian national who goes by “Mrb3hz4d” online, and Marwan Abusrour, a 25-years-old stateless national of the Palestinian Authority who uses “Mrwn007” as his name online, were charged on Tuesday with one count of conspiring to commit intentional damage to a protected computer, which could result in up to five years in prison, and another count of intentionally damaging a protected computer, which could result in as many as 10 years behind bars. The two allegedly did so “as retaliation” for the U.S. killing of Soleimani, the leader of the terrorist-designated Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who is believed to be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The duo are wanted and remain overseas.
“The hackers victimized innocent third parties in a campaign to retaliate for the military action that killed Soleimani, a man behind countless acts of terror against Americans and others that the Iranian regime opposed,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said. “Their misguided, illegal actions in support of a rogue, destabilizing regime will come back to haunt them as they are now fugitives from justice.”
The Justice Department said Mohammadzadeh and Abusrour began working together in late December 2019 “when Abusrour began providing Mahammadzadeh with access to compromised websites.” After the Pentagon announced that Soleimani had been killed by the United States, Mohammadzadeh allegedly transmitted computer code to approximately 51 websites hosted in the U.S. and defaced those websites by replacing their content with pictures of the late Soleimani against a background of the Iranian flag, along with the message, in English, “Down with America,” and other text. Abusrour also provided Mohammadzadeh “with access to at least seven websites, which they defaced with a similar image and text.”