Suspected Intelligence Leaker Arrested in Massachusetts
A member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Jack Teixeira, was arrested in connection to the recent classified document leak. Teixeira managed a Discord group where over 100 confidential documents were shared, ranging from information on Ukraine to intelligence gathered from spying on allies.
The US government was investigating the source of a leak that exposed confidential information on Russian activities in Ukraine and spying on US allies. The Defense Department was collaborating with the intelligence community to ascertain the extent of the leak.
“Today, the Justice Department arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified national defense information. Teixeira is an employee of the United States Air Force National Guard,” Attorney General Merrick Garland announced.
As of now, it is not clear how Teixeira, the Airman from the Massachusetts Air National Guard, obtained access to the classified documents that he leaked on Discord. It is possible that Teixeira had legitimate access to the information due to his role in the intelligence wing of the Air National Guard. However, the exact nature of his job and how he was able to access the documents remains unknown, as the investigation into the leak is ongoing.
Teixeira was in charge of a private online group called Thug Shaker Central, which brought together around 20 to 30 people who shared an interest in guns, racist online memes, and video games. Most of the members were young men and teenagers.
According to the New York The Times:
[They] spoke with four members of Thug Shaker Central, one of whom said he had known the person who leaked for at least three years, had met him in person and referred to him as the O.G. The friends described him as older than most of the group members, who were in their teens, and the undisputed leader. One of the friends said the O.G. had access to intelligence documents through his job…
Members of Thug Shaker Central who spoke to The Times said that the documents they discussed online were meant to be purely informative. While many pertained to the war in Ukraine, the members said they took no side in the conflict.
BREAKING: Sky 5 was overhead as federal agents swarmed a Mass. home and detained a man amid the probe into leaked classified documents about the Ukraine war. https://t.co/5FCrFgz3QZ pic.twitter.com/cwdp4yWJLK
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) April 13, 2023
Although Teixeira’s gaming friends did not confirm his involvement, according to The New York Times, a trail of digital evidence, including an online gaming profile, led to him. The location where the documents were photographed was identified as his childhood home, which contained a distinctive granite countertop and white floor tiles seen in leaked intelligence briefings.
The same interior décor was also visible in photographs of the family home posted online by one of Teixeira’s close relatives.
“This is a law enforcement matter,” General Patrick S. Ryder said. “There is an ongoing investigation… This was a deliberate criminal act.”
The leak was initially shared on Discord in early March. The documents also appeared on other social media sites such as Twitter, and 4chan.
According to recent reports, the Russian channels widely circulated an edited image that reduced the number of Russian troops killed while inflating the number of Ukrainian losses. Initially, the documents were shared on pro-Kremlin Telegram channels that focused largely on their content rather than their authenticity. However, some prominent channels and media outlets suggested that the documents might be partly fake, and an expert quoted by the ultranationalist news website Regnum even suggested that the leak was deliberate and aimed at providing a smokescreen for the coming Ukrainian counter-offensive.
In Ukraine, questions about the documents’ authenticity have also been raised, with some commentators accusing Russia of planting fake documents ahead of the counter-offensive. While many poor-quality screenshots of the documents are still circulating on Twitter, Telegram, and Reddit, the originals are much harder to find, as many have disappeared from the chats where they first emerged. Some users who previously shared screenshots of the documents on Discord have deleted their social media profiles or tried to get rid of all the copies they had on their phones, adding to the paranoia surrounding the leaked documents.