Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



U.S. Charges Hackers for Defacing Sites in Response to Killing of Qasem Soleimani

The United States on Tuesday announced charges against two men from Iran and Palestine accused of defacing websites in response to the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

The United States on Tuesday announced charges against two men from Iran and Palestine accused of defacing websites in response to the killing of Qasem Soleimani.

Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander, was killed in early January 2020 as part of a drone strike launched by the United States. Many expected Iran to retaliate in cyberspace, but a majority of the attacks that were made public were website defacements, which are considered less sophisticated attacks.

Nevertheless, U.S. authorities have not ignored these cyberattacks and they say some of them were launched by Behzad Mohammadzadeh, aka Mrb3hz4d, who is believed to be a 19-year-old Iranian, and Marwan Abusrour, aka Mrwn007, believed to be a 25-year-old Palestinian.

The two are said to have defaced tens of websites hosted in the United States as part of a retaliation campaign over the killing of Soleimani. Some of the impacted sites were hosted by a company based in Massachusetts, and the indictment has been filed in the District of Massachusetts.

Mohammadzadeh and Abusrour have been charged with one count of conspiring to commit intentional damage to a protected computer and one count of intentionally damaging a protected computer. They face up to five years in prison for the first charge and up to 10 years for the second charge.

Prosecutors pointed out that Mohammadzadeh has claimed to have defaced more than 1,100 websites. His profile on Zone-H, a service that allows hackers to keep track of the websites they deface, shows that he targeted 1,279 sites as of September 8. Abusrour describes himself as a spammer, carder and black hat, claiming to have defaced over 300 websites.

Website defaced in retaliation over killing or Iranian military commander

Mohammadzadeh and Abusrour have both been added to the FBI’s Cyber’s Most Wanted list.

“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,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “Their misguided, illegal actions in support of a rogue, destabilizing regime will come back to haunt them, as they are now fugitives from justice.”

Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston Division, noted, “These hackers are accused of orchestrating a brazen cyber-assault that defaced scores of websites across the country as a way of protesting and retaliating against the United States for killing the leader of a foreign terrorist organization. Now, they are wanted by the FBI and are no longer free to travel outside Iran or Palestine without risk of arrest.”

Related: Targeted Phishing Campaign Leverages Death of Iranian General Qasem Suleimani

Related: DHS Warns of Possible Iranian Cyberattacks After Killing of Qassem Soleimani

Written By

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.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join this webinar to learn best practices that organizations can use to improve both their resilience to new threats and their response times to incidents.


Join this live webinar as we explore the potential security threats that can arise when third parties are granted access to a sensitive data or systems.


Expert Insights

Related Content


Zendesk is informing customers about a data breach that started with an SMS phishing campaign targeting the company’s employees.


Satellite TV giant Dish Network confirmed that a recent outage was the result of a cyberattack and admitted that data was stolen.


The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 has demonstrated the potential of AI for both good and bad.


The changing nature of what we still generally call ransomware will continue through 2023, driven by three primary conditions.

Application Security

PayPal is alerting roughly 35,000 individuals that their accounts have been targeted in a credential stuffing campaign.


No one combatting cybercrime knows everything, but everyone in the battle has some intelligence to contribute to the larger knowledge base.


As it evolves, web3 will contain and increase all the security issues of web2 – and perhaps add a few more.


A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...