Hamza Bendelladj : The man who hacked poverty
Nobody dared to spill a bean. The courtroom fell silent as the judge was about to give the verdict. From the corner of my eye, I took a glance at the man, who by now had vaccinated an unfathomable influence not only in the minds of the people in that room, but also many nations. He was tranquil and as always-smiling. I strived hard to find any suitable matter that evolved within him which perpetuated this calmness inside him. Maybe he was fearless, or content, knowing that he had accomplished what he needed to. I guess he knew that nobody in this world had the power to undo what he did, not even his own self.
Cut to 2012, Algeria. The moon has made itself to the centre of the sky. The whole city has forfeited itself deep in the sleep. But it’s a long important night for two young lads. One of them is Hamza Bedelladj (alias name- BX1) and the other is his Russian accomplice Alesandr Andreevich Panin (alias name- Gribodemon). The laptop screens lighten their faces as these two hackers create a malware called “SpyEye” which is about to turn the States and their people upside down in a way they would have never imagined. The dawn marked the termination of the trojan horse. The next chore that lay in front of them is to attach the “SpyEye” in the e-mails and send them to the American banks and other financial institutions.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Georgia, USA. It’s a very uncommon morning for FBI. It felt like someone had injected life in the telephones and asked them never to stop ringing since morning. Thousands of calls were received in a couple of hours, from banks, financial institutions and even the normal citizens. All had a similar trauma in them-that someone had stolen their money overnight. The chaos had shelled itself firmly around the States. Nobody knew who came out of nowhere, filled his bag with their money and ran out of their country. After the initial investigation, the reality dawned itself upon them-all of them had received and opened a common e-mail which, consequently had automatically installed a virus in their computers which could give an easy access to their bank accounts, passwords and other financial secrets. The dawn of “SpyEye” had managed to induce dusk in a nation. BX1 and Gribodemon had emptied 20 million dollars from one single transaction. A sum of 4000 million dollars had been vanished within half a day from 217 American banks. Hamaza Bendelladj was now among the most wanted list of FBI.
It’s a chilling morning of January 8,2013 and the Thailand international airport is filled with passengers as usual. Few soldiers of Thailand police enter the airport. They are looking for a man named Hamaza Bendelladj, who is supposedly known to board a flight to Egypt today. As they make their way through the crown, scanning each and every face, they see a man in a black jersey. He looks like a normal college lad with short hair and skinny biceps. The forces rush towards him but he doesn’t try to escape. He stands still waiting for the men in the uniform to approach him like he had seen it coming his way. After a couple of minutes Hamaza Bendelladj is pushed out of the airport, his hands handcuffed. He is handed over to the FBI in the next couple of days. The ground shook beneath the feet of FBI officers when they saw Hamaza Bendelladj for the first time. It was hard to believe that such a skinny guy had managed to originate disquiet to the most powerful nation in the world. And the even harder fact to digest was his sly smile that he always worn. What was the reason for this intense fearlessness of a 27 year old guy after being arrested by the most powerful forces of the world? Maybe there was more to it. Something more unusual was about to come.
26th June 2013 was the day that US judiciary still laments. It was the day that turned the odds to even. The victim had accepted his crime and was proven guilty but what he claimed next fetched the baton from the US government and brought it to the centre of the arena. Hamaza Bendelladj affirmed to have been donated the entire amount that he had stolen through cyber means to the NGOs working for the poor and needy people in Africa and Palestine! His statement hit like a thud to the judicial as he had now become a half-hero from a complete villain. The match had been won by the US government but the trophy went to Hamaza Bendelladj.
After various other court sessions, today, on the 20th day of April 2016, this what the judge has to say as the final verdict, “Hamaza Bendelladj and Alesandr Andreevich Panin are hereby sentenced a rigorous imprisonment of 15 years and also a three year supervised release for illegally indulging themselves in a cybercrime and stealing an ample amount of finance from The United States of America.” Finally, his fate is sealed but the verdict doesn’t seem to have affected the smiling hacker who is still smiling. He now has a wife and a son.
After leaving the courtroom, I find myself wandering in the streets of Georgia. I go into the public garden and sit on a bench across the fountain. At the far end of the road, I see a small kid smiling wide as his dad brings him a new toy. This reminds me of something. Maybe a poor kid in Africa would have celebrated his birthday for the first time or a poor father would have brought his daughter the Barbie doll she had been demanding since a month, all because of one man, BX1. I am still not convinced about the right one and the wrong one in this case. The harder I try to find the solution, the farther I part from it. Maybe some stories don’t have a clear hero or a villain. Those who needed to be helped received plenty from those who had the capacity to donate plenty. Some questions are best unanswered. Sometimes, a battle between two ‘wrongs’ also lead to something ‘right’-but in the wrong way. It’s not every time you get a heads or a tail on the coin, sometime it just lands upright. I head home thinking that some pictures have a bigger picture hidden among them and you cannot concentrate on both at the same time.
As I reach home, a notification pops into my phone. It’s an e-mail. It shows the sender’s name to be BX1.
Post by :Falan Vachhrajani