The Algerian Hamza Bendelladj, who is facing criminal charges in the U.S. for allegedly hijacking bank accounts worldwide by means of the SpyEye banking Trojan, was recently hailed as a hero by Algerian academics. In a show that aired on Ennahar TV on August 24, 2015, Professor Muhammad Saleh said that Bendelladj was "a great hero in a failing political system," and Professor Laeed Zaghlami called him "a source of inspiration for Algerian youth. Bendelladj's case resurfaced in Algerian media in recent days following a rumor spread on Algerian social media that he was sentenced to death in the United States."
Following are excerpts:
Muhammad Salehi: "It is well known that the United States, before WWII, and especially after it, used Einstein and Oppenheimer to invent the nuclear bomb. They also used German and non-German scientists... They will not execute (Bendelladj), but they will try to use him. Just as we seek to prevent his execution and to release him from prison, we should seek to benefit from him and from other (hackers) here in Algeria. I've met with Algerians who received letters of appreciation from European leaders, but when they approached local government institutions, they encountered a lot of problems. When they receive no recognition, these Algerians turn to international institutions, and some of them turn to the hacking institutions of foreign countries. Perhaps they do this as an act of revenge, because they believe that the Arab world has suffered injustice, and that the Palestinians have been stripped of their rights. Perhaps they believe that since Allah has granted them such 'genius,' they have the right to act like the Americans, who take the oil and gold of the Arabs by force. Just like the Americans try to take the shale gas of the Arabs by force, (the hackers) believe they have the right to take the Americans' 'shale gas,' by taking their money from them."
Host: "Do you think (Bendelladj) is a hero or a criminal?"
Muhammad Salehi: "I see him as a great hero and a victim of a failing political system. He is a great hero. If there had been successful social and political system, he would not have done it. He is the Einstein of Algeria. He is among the top 10 (hackers). Therefore, he is a great hero in a failing political system."
Host: "Do you agree that he is a great hero in a failing political system?"
Laeed Zaghlami: "I'd like to say that Hamza represents those youths…How old is he exactly?"
Host: "A little less than 27."
Laeed Zaghlami: "God bless him. He is the product of an educational system capable of producing such individuals.
Host: "Educational yes, but not political..."
Laeed Zaghlami: "That's one thing. Secondly, I believe that he a source of inspiration for Algerian youth, who see that they can excel. The social and scientific atmosphere in Algeria is non-existent, but there are opportunities (abroad). With the advancement of technology, if you want to help your country, you can do it from Copenhagen or from Mars. The important thing is to stay true to our country, our religion, and our skills."