A group of British computer hackers are being tracked down by the FBI and face extradition to the United States, after calling in a series of terrorist threats across the States.
The group, two of which are believed to live in Scotland, are part of a larger gang calling themselves the “ISISGang”.
The three British youths, one of whom is understood to be just 16, made a series of calls via Skype threatening schools, universities and conference centres with bombing and shootings, the Sunday Times has reported. The prank calls are said to have cost American authorities £600,000 ($1million).
It is not known whether the group are linked to ISIS or are simply using the name in order to spread fear and distrust of Muslims. The content of the calls have included references to 9/11 and the killing of Iraqis by American military forces. One of the group, who goes by the names “Verified” and “Spiky” last week Tweeted “RIP to the 9/11 pilots” and joked about the beheadings of Foley and Sotloff by ISIS forces.
In a call to Sandy Hook Elementary School, which was the scene of a mass shooting which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults in 2012, a man using the name ‘Mohammed Jamile’ claimed he was on his way to the school to “kill all your asses.”
And in April a call was made to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre by a man identifying himself as ‘Matt Hag’ whilst a gaming conference with 60,000 people in attendance was going on. The The FBI affidavit states: “Hag claimed that he was an Iraqi national who migrated to the United States in 2006 and was working for Allah. Hag claimed he was upset that innocent Iraqis were being killed and stated that his children were murdered by marines.”
The American authorities were put onto the trail of the three men by an American, Matthew Tollis, 21, who was arrested in April. Tollis is being prosecuted by the attorney for the district of Connecticut for his alleged involvement with the group, and is complying with authorities by giving them information on the other members of the gang.
He has revealed that the gang met as Xbox gamers, and originally called themselves TeAM CrucifiX or Die before changing their name in August. They had all been involved in ‘Swatting’, which involves calling in fake threats in order to get Swat teams to converge on the target.
Tollis followed two of the group via Twitter, believing that they would protect him from abuse that he had received on the social platform. Tollis had been ‘pizza bombed’, in which dozens of pizzas are ordered and sent to the target’s home, and ‘doxed’, which involves releasing private information like social security numbers and passwords online. He has admitted to taking part in prank calls against Hebron High School, Texas, two New Jersey high schools, Boston University, and the Boston Convention Centre.
The three British individuals are known online as ‘Verified’, ‘Jordie’, and ‘Declaws’. Tollis has given the FBI possible identities for the first two, claiming that ‘Verified’ lives in Scotland. ‘Declaws’ may also be Scottish – he has Tweeted about visiting McDonalds in Arbroath, a port on the eastern coast of Scotland.
“Jordie” claims to be an “aspiring rapper”. Tweeting under the name “GDKJordie”, he wrote: “I’ve more or less ruined my life at 16 because i [sic] thought it would be funny to swat a few cocky gamers and terrorise schools.” The tweet has since been deleted.