The alleged leader of ISIS' Cyber Caliphate hacking group, Birmingham born 21-year old Junaid Hussain, is believed to have been killed in a recent drone air strike near Raqqa in Syria by the United States military in a stark demonstration that hybrid warfare (physical/cyber) is now a reality.
While in the UK Hussain helped found the hacking group TeaMp0isoN which hacked Tony Blair's address book and the counter-terror hotline then made hoax calls to both, resulting in a six-month jail term. He is also reported to have hacked NATO Croatia, and the racist English Defence League, and worked with pro-Kashmir and Palestinian hackers from ZCompany Hacking Crew using the online name TriCk.
TriCk and ZHC deleted hundreds of anti-Islamic postings in Facebook, having found a zero-day vulnerability in new Facebook profiles. TriCk said, “The vulnerability allowed us to stop walls from loading and newsfeeds going totally blank. We didn't get access to people's account – we exploited Facebook." Facebook denied the exploit and deleted the accounts of the hackers, but the hackers and the hacked said that it had happened.
In 2013, Hussain arrived in Syria and started using the name Abu Hussain al-Britani, where he is believed to have become a leader of the hacking group Cyber Caliphate. He is alleged to have helped Isis obtain passwords for the YouTube accounts of the United States Central Command and take over their Twitter accounts in January and use them to transmit pro-Isis propaganda.
Although third in the Pentagon's Islamic State kill list, some security experts say Hussain and other Isis computer hackers do not have the skills to launch serious attacks on Western government's infrastructure and are more of a “nuisance” than a threat. However Hussain was also tied to an Islamic State plot to attack an Armed Forces Day parade in South London in June as well as being heavily involved in propaganda and recruitment.
A member of US defence told press that they have a “high level of confidence” that Junaid Hussain has been killed after the specifically targeted air strike hit his vehicle. However, two Twitter accounts believed to be connected to Isis have reported that his wife, British-born Sally Jones who is now known as Shakina Hussain, has said he is still alive.
The BBC reported Michael McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, saying that his death sent an "unmistakable message. We need to maintain vigilance and good intelligence to stop future plotting, and ultimately we must destroy the group's terrorist sanctuary."This story originally appeared on SCMagazineUK.com.