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Hacker: VICE erroneously identified Syrian Electronic Army member

A member of the Syrian Electronic Army denied a report that claims to have revealed the identity of a hacker associated with the group.

Logo used on the weblog of Syrian Electronic Army hacker "Th3 Pro."
Logo used on the weblog of Syrian Electronic Army hacker “Th3 Pro.”

On Wednesday, VICE’s MotherBoard reported that evidence supplied to them from an anonymous individual called “Hacker X” revealed SEA hacker “Th3 Pr0” as 19-year-old Hatem Deeb. According to VICE, Deeb’s name was listed on a receipt for a virtual private server used by the SEA. VICE claims a credit card number used to pay for the VPS was associated with Deeb.

In the article, VICE said they attempted to reach out to members of the SEA, but did not receive a response.

In an interview with The Desk Wednesday afternoon, Th3 Pr0 denied that he was Deeb, calling the 19-year-old identified by VICE an “innocent friend.”

Th3 Pr0 explain that Deeb, who he called a friend of the SEA, was initially okay with his name being used on registration records of services obtained by the hacking group. However, Th3 Pr0 said Deeb is no longer in Syria, and VICE’s article puts Deeb’s life in danger.

“I’m afraid something will happen to him if anyone stupid sees this,” Th3 Pr0 told The Desk. 

Th3 Pr0 said the group does not plan to do any more interviews with VICE in the foreseeable future; he also threatened to remove the VICE article “in our own way” if VICE did not change or remove it within 24 hours (Th3 Pr0 eventually walked back claims that the group would hit VICE in 24 hours, saying it would respond at a later time).

The Desk has reached out to VICE for comment.

Hackers with the SEA have targeted online social media profiles of various western news organizations over the past several months. The group was thrust into the spotlight on Tuesday when it phished an online account associated with Melbourne IT, a company that offers various online services including web address registration. Hackers with the SEA changed registration details for the New York Times and Twitter, both clients of Melbourne IT. The New York Times website and mobile apps were down for several hours as a result of the attack.

In April, the group compromised a Twitter profile used by the Associated Press. The SEA published an erroneous tweet claiming President Obama had been injured in an explosion at the White House; the tweet caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 100 points before it became apparent the information was false.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is an award-winning journalist with more than 10 years of experience covering the business of television and radio broadcasting, streaming services and the overall media industry. In addition to his work as publisher of The Desk, Matthew contributes regularly to StreamTV Insider and KnowTechie, and has worked for several well-known news organizations, including Thomson Reuters, McNaughton Newspapers, Grasswire, Comstock's magazine, KTXL-TV and KGO-TV. Matthew is a member of IRE, a trade organization for investigative reporters and editors, and is based in Northern California.

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