Philippine police, with assistance from the FBI, busted a hacking operation that targeted accounts of AT&T business customers in the United States to funnel money for terrorist attacks across Asia. Three men and one woman were arrested in raids across Manila in connection with the operation. Local police made the arrests following complaints made by AT&T and the FBI regarding the activities of the Filipino hackers.
Investigators unearthed a paper trail of bank transactions that connected Filipino phone hackers to the al Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist group, Philippine's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said in a statement Thursday.
JI terrorists directed the hackers "to hack the trunk-line (PBX) of different telecommunication companies including AT&T," the statement said. Revenues from the hacking were deposited into the terrorists' accounts and the hackers received commissions.
In 2007, the FBI arrested Muhammad Zamir, a JI member in Italy. After that, a Saudi national took control of the group and also directed the hacking operation in Manila.
The JI has been responsible for several terrorist attacks in Southeast Asia, including the 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 202 people. The group also helped fund the November 2008 terrorist siege in Mumbai. Armed militants from the Pakistan-based terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, carried out the attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
Another Philippine-based group called the "Jamaat Al-Tawhid Wal Jihad in the Philippines" recently announced its loyalty to al-Qaida's mission and all of its various branches, in videos released to the Shumukh al-Islam forum.
"We demand that you [al-Qaida] help us and equip us in the way of jihad for the sake of Allah, as there is no way to restore the Islamic caliphate and the glory of Islam, to repel the enemies of Islam, and to liberate our lands from the infidel scum other than the way of jihad and of swords drawn for the sake of Allah," leader Abu Jihad al-Luzini stated.
"We urgently need experts in explosives and in weapons manufacture like our brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan," another leader said in a second video.