US authorities Tuesday unveiled criminal charges against three members of the so-called “Syrian Electronic Army,” which gained notoriety for hacking into news media outlets and making bogus social media posts.
The Justice Departments said criminal indictments named Ahmad Umar Agha, 22; Firas Dardar, 27; and Peter Romar, 36, all Syrian nationals. Arrest warrants were issued for all three on charges including conspiracy, unauthorized access to computers, receiving the proceeds of extortion, money laundering and wire fraud.
The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has been known for hitting news outlets that the group claims slant their reporting of the Syria conflict.
Their most notorious hack was of The Associated Press Twitter account, resulting in a false 2013 tweet saying President Barack Obama had been injured after two blasts at the White House. The message saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffer a “flash crash” before traders realized the tweet was false.
Other victims of SEA hacks include the AFP photo department’s Twitter account, the BBC, Al Jazeera, the Financial Times and the Guardian.
Their conspiracy was mostly dedicated to Spear-phishing, a technique in which an attacker sends a message disguised to appear as if it were from a trusted source, asking for credentials that enable the hackers to access accounts. Investigators said the group repeatedly targeted computer systems and employees of the White House but failed to gain access.