TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Morocco to Try Suspected Computer Worm Author

Morocco to Try Suspected Computer Worm Author

Souhail Karam (
Fri, 2 Sep 2005 15:02:40 -0500

By Souhail Karam

An 18-year-old math student will go on trial in Morocco this month
for unleashing computer worms that disrupted networks of major
U.S. firms, a Justice Ministry official said on Friday.

The FBI announced last week Moroccan Farid Essebar's arrest in Rabat
and that in Turkey of 21-year-old Attila Ekici, both suspected of
releasing the Zotob worm that hit the Internet three weeks ago.

The official said Essebar's trial would start on September 13 and he
would be in custody near Rabat until then.

"The hearing will specify charges against him for the trial," the
ministry official told Reuters.

The Russian-born math student is accused of illegal access to data
systems, criminal conspiracy, aggravated theft and credit card
piracy. Legal sources say he faces up to 10 years in jail if found

The Rabat court will try another suspect, identified as 21-year-old
Achraf Bahloul, on the same charges.

"Bahloul got into this for having used Essebar's alias and pirated
credit cards data. We don't think Bahloul is directly involved in the
Zotob attack," the official said.

Police were trying to find any more Moroccan accomplices Essebar may
have had, he said, declining to elaborate.

Zotob caused computer outages at more than 100 U.S. firms, including
major media outlets like CNN, ABC, New York Times, Reuters, Associated
Press, and Christian Science Monitor, but did not create widespread
havoc like previous malicious software programs like SQL Slammer and
MyDoom. They did select these media outlets intending to 'silence the

Close teamwork among the FBI, Microsoft Corp. and authorities in
Morocco and Turkey helped net Essebar and Ekici 12 days after the

Using the alias Diab10 (Wolves10), Essebar is suspected of having
helped Ekici create the Zotob worm in exchange for credit cards data,
local newspapers said, quoting well-informed sources.

Moroccan police declined comment.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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