Suspected hackers and vandals arrested

James Raj Arokiasamy, 35, who allegedly calls himself “The Messiah”, faces four charges, including one for hacking into Ang Mo Kio Town Council’s website.

SINGAPORE - The man who allegedly called himself "The Messiah" was unmasked for the first time in court on Tuesday as a wanted drug offender who had been on the run since 2011.

James Raj Arokiasamy, 35, stood alone in the dock as four criminal charges, including one for hacking into the website of Ang Mo Kio Town Council on Oct 28, were read out to him. The other charges were for drug consumption committed back in May 2011.

He had apparently jumped bail two years ago for the drug offences and had been in hiding until his capture last Monday by the Malaysian police, acting on information from their Singapore counterparts. He was arrested at a Kuala Lumpur condominium where he had carried out the cyber attacks.

The police said on Tuesday that James Raj is believed to be involved in other cyber intrusions including that of The Straits Times' blog site and the PAP Community Foundation's website. The Straits Times understands that, while hiding behind his moniker, he created the video threatening a wave of cyber attacks to protest licensing rules for news websites here.

His appearance in court capped a week in which suspects were rounded up by the police in connection with separate cases of cyber intrusions and vandalism.

Among them were five men being investigated for the hackings of websites belonging to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Istana last Friday.

Two of the suspects arrested in connection with the PMO incident are brothers, aged 21 and 27. Police confirmed they have been released on bail, while a third, believed to be their brother-in-law, 31, is assisting the police.

Two other men, a 17-year-old Institute of Technical Education student and a 45-year-old IT professional, are being questioned about the attack on the Istana's site. They have not been arrested.

Another five men were also charged on Tuesday with three incidents of vandalism in the city area last Tuesday - the day people were urged by The Messiah to mount protests. The five, who have been released on bail, are Muhammad Fitri Abu Kasim, 24; Danial Ryan Salleh, 25; Mohamad Fadzly Aziz, 21; Muhammad Redzwan Baskin, 26; and Muhammad Qamarul Arifin Sa'adon, 22.

The four groups of suspects are neither connected in any way, nor linked to global hacktivist group Anonymous. Police said their acts were "committed in isolation".

A source close to the investigations said that though there is no evidence James Raj is in any way connected to Anonymous, "there is concern that there might be a reaction to his arrest from the amorphous group that is out there". "That is why the Government is taking all the precautions."

The prosecution had earlier told the court that James Raj said he was suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Despite his protest, the court ordered for him to be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric evaluation. He will return to court on Nov 26.

Meanwhile, 15 Singaporeans, aged between 16 and 27, are assisting with police investigations into possible offences of taking part in a public assembly without permit.

They were said to be responding to a call to support a march last Tuesday. This even though the police had issued an advisory reminding the public that organising or participating in a public assembly requires a police permit.

franchan@sph.com.sg


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