From TeaMp0ison hackivist to ISIS: US drone strikes British citizen

British citizen Junaid Hussain, an ISIS hacker who was once charged with stealing Tony Blair’s personal details, has been killed by a US drone strike in Syria.

US officials told CNN on Wednesday that they have a “high level of confidence” that Hussain, aged 21, was killed in a drone strike in Syria earlier this week.

Drones were used to confirm the identity of Hussain after it received a tip about his location. The strike specifically targeted Hussain travelling in a vehicle in Syria, officials said, .

The US is near to formally announcing Hussain’s death, however it first needs to confirm the target was Hussain, according to CNN. Meanwhile officials said there was a 'good deal of sensitivity' about reactions in the UK’s Muslim communities to the fact that the US targeted a British citizen.

Hussain is allegedly a key IS recruiter and is believed to have been one of its most formidable hackers who’s been linked to the IS-affiliated Cyber Caliphate group, which took control of the US Military Command’s Twitter and Facebook accounts in January and in April claimed responsibility for hijacking TV5Monde’s to broadcast the message “Je suIS IS” and warning French solders against fighting ISIS.

Hussain fled to Syria in 2013 to join ISIS after dodging bail during an investigation into violent disorder allegations.

UK media had covered Hussain’s move to Syria and ISIS membership, however US interest in the Brit grew after he was linked to the gun attack on contestants at a cartoon drawing contest in Texas earlier this year. Prior to the attack, one of the gunman told his followers to follow the account of Abu Hussain al-Britaini — the name Hussain had adopted for his Twitter account following his move to ISIS.

Peers from his former life as a hacker in the UK have since described him as someone who’s “not to be taken lightly”, however the hacker didn’t have much luck keeping a low profile before his move.

In 2012, then aged 18, Hussain was jailed for six months for hacking the Gmail account of one of Tony Blair’s advisors and accessing the former UK Prime Minister’s address book, which he later posted online. He was also identified as TriCK, one of the key members of a hacking group TeaMp0ison and charged with the group’s denial of service attack on the UK’s terrorist hotline.

Read more: Syria removed from the Internet

His undoing came after TeaMp0isoN posted a recording on YouTube of a prank phone call made to the UK’s anti-terrorist hotline. On the call, someone in the background referred to the caller as TriCK. In a , TriCK said the call to the police was to protest the extradition of people to the US on unfounded accusations.

Hussain’s defence lawyer told the sentencing judge that Hussain was “frightened of custody” and had been accepted to study at university. The judge said that despite Hussain’s strong family background, “there has to be an aspect of deterrence”.

In August the Pentagon named Hussain as its number three on its hit list, behind Mohammed Emwazi, the hostage killer known as ‘Jihadi John’, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader.

Want to know more?

Why not become a CSO member and subscribe to CSO's mailing list. 

Get newsletters, updates, events and more right here

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags British citizencnnUK’s Muslim communitiesTeaMp0isoNTony BlairIsisISIS hackerCSO AustraliaIS-affiliated Cyber Caliphate groupUS droneJunaid HussainSyriaTV5Monde’sIS recruiterhackivist

More about CNNCSOFacebookTwitter

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Liam Tung

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts