ISIS cyber expert killed in US drone strike

Junaid Hussain believed to be killed in US drone strike targeting ISIS in Syria

Photo by: N/A
Photo by: N/A

US sources said on Wednesday that a British hacker who became the top cyber expert for ISIS in Syria has been killed in a US drone strike.

A source who is familiar with the matter, indicated that the US Defence Department was likely involved in the drone strike which killed the British hacker, Junaid Hussain, on Tuesday near the Syrian city of Raqqa.

Hussain, a former resident of the city of Birmingham in England, is the second senior ISIS figure to reportedly be killed within the last eight days. ISIS’ second-in-command was killed in a US air strike near Mosul, Iraq, on Aug. 18.

Hussain is believed to be the leader of "Cyber Caliphate," a hacking group which in January attacked a Twitter account belonging to the Pentagon, US and European government sources told Reuters earlier this year.

The sources said they did not know if Hussain was personally involved in the attack.

According to the Birmingham Mail newspaper, Hussain moved to Syria two years ago when he was 21 years old.

Cyber security experts have said they believe that the hackers working for ISIS, including Hussain, are not skilled enough to be able to shut down computer networks or damage critical infrastructure.

Adam Meyers, vice president of intelligence with cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, said Husain "wasn't a serious threat. He was most likely a nuisance hacker."

"It was his involvement in recruitment, communications and other ancillary support that would have made him a target," he added.

Hussain was jailed for six months in 2012 on the charge of stealing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's address book and putting details of from the book online. He was also convicted of making several hoax calls to a counter terrorism hotline.

After joining ISIS Hussain drew the attention of US security and defence agencies. US sources denied British claims that Hussain was number three in a US list of drone targets.

TRTWorld and agencies