2 hackers charged with defacing US sites as retaliation for Iranian general’s killing

iStock/peerapong boriboon
iStock/peerapong boriboon

BY: CONOR FINNEGAN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — Two foreign hackers have been indicted for defacing dozens of U.S.-based websites with pictures of late Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani alongside the message, “Down with America.”

The cyberattacks may be another sign of Iranian efforts to retaliate for President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani with a U.S. drone strike in January. News of the indictments come days after reports that Iran was plotting to kill the U.S. ambassador to South Africa and months after Iranian missiles injured over 100 U.S. service members in Iraq.

Iranian Behzad Mohammadzadeh and Palestinian Marwan Abusrour were charged with conspiracy to commit intentional damage to a protected computer and two counts of intentional damage to a protected computer in an indictment unsealed in a federal court in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

Both men are overseas and not under arrest, with their chances of facing these charges slim.

Shortly after Soleimani’s death was confirmed, Mohammadzadeh “transmitted computer code to approximately 51 websites hosted in the United States and defaced those websites by replacing their content with pictures of the late General Soleimani against a background of the Iranian flag, along with the message, in English, ‘Down with America’ and other text,” the indictment said.

Abusrour is accused of providing Mohammadzadeh access to at least seven sites, where the 19-year-old Iranian hacker posted the images and text.

Two hackers, an Iranian and a Palestinian, have just been indicted in @DMAnews1 with defacing dozens of US-based websites with pictures of Qasem Soleimani and the message “Down with America”
Behzad Mohammadzadeh and Marwan Abusrour face three federal counts pic.twitter.com/XKECdbNQZ0

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