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Syrian Electronic Army Hacker Extradited to U.S.

Peter “Pierre” Romar, a 36-year-old Syrian national suspected of being a member of the notorious Syrian Electronic Army hacktivist group, has been extradited from Germany to the United States.

Romar, who had been living in the town of Waltershausen in Germany, was charged by U.S. authorities along with two other alleged members of the hacker collective in March. The suspect will appear in a Virginia federal court on Tuesday, reported The Washington Post.

The Syrian Electronic Army is mainly known for highly publicized attacks in support of the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad. Their targets include government organizations, media companies and other private-sector entities.

Ahmad Umar Agha, 22, aka “The Pro,” and Firas Dardar, 27, aka “The Shadow,” have been charged for a criminal conspiracy relating to their hacktivism campaigns. However, Dardar and Romar were separately charged for activities that involved hacking into the systems of businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere in an effort to extort them.

The hackers breached the victim’s computer systems via spear phishing emails, and then threatened to damage devices and delete or sell data unless they were paid. In at least one case, Dardar told the victim about his affiliation with the notorious hacker group to convince them to pay up.

According to authorities, the hackers targeted 14 organizations between July 2013 and December 2014. They demanded a total of over $500,000 from victims, but in many cases they accepted smaller amounts. In one instance involving a Chinese online gaming company with servers in the United States, they initially demanded $50,000, but eventually lowered the ransom to $15,000.

Other victims include web hosting, online entertainment, and online media companies in the United States and Europe.

According to authorities, Romar acted as an intermediary when victims could not send money to Syrian bank accounts due to international sanctions regulations. In one case, the man received payment from a victim and forwarded the money to an intermediary in Lebanon.

When the Justice Department announced the charges against the Syrian Electronic Army hackers, Romar had already been arrested in Germany. Agha and Dardar are believed to be in Syria so their apprehension is not an easy task, which is why they have been added to the FBI’s most wanted list. The agency is offering up to $100,000 for information that leads to their arrest.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.