Updated Apr 13, 2023, 3:50pm EDT
securitypoliticsNorth America

21-year-old Jack Teixeira arrested in connection with classified documents leak

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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The News

Jack Douglas Teixeira, a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, has been arrested by the FBI for his alleged involvement in leaking top secret U.S. government and military documents, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday.

Garland said Teixeira was arrested "in connection with an investigation into the alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information."

He confirmed that Teixeira was employed by the U.S. Air National Guard and that there was an ongoing investigation, but did not provide further details

The FBI said it took Teixeira into custody "without incident at a residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts." Agents are continuing their activity at the home.

The New York Times identified Teixeira as the leader of an online gaming group — Thug Shaker Central — where the sensitive documents first surfaced. Several news outlets cited sources identifying him as the likely source of the leak early Thursday. U.S. President Joe Biden also suggested that the government was close to identifying the leaker.

The leak involves hundreds of classified documents from the Pentagon — many containing secret details of American espionage, unexpected deals, and controversial alliances.

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Know More

According to the Times, Teixeira was the leader of the private gaming group consisting mostly of dozens of young men and teenagers who posted racist memes and shared a common love for guns and video games.

The Washington Post previously reported that the group's leader was known to others as "O.G." and was older than most. Members told the Post and the Times that he shared intelligence documents accessed through his job.

Military records, social media posts, and Teixeira’s mother confirmed to the Times that he was a national guardsman working at a base in Cape Cod after being promoted to Airman First Class in July 2022.

"He needs to get an attorney if things are flowing the way they are going right now. The Feds will be around soon, I’m sure," his mother told the Times.

It’s not immediately clear how Teixeira had access to highly sensitive information, though his role as an IT tech within the Air National Guard may have given him access.

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Step Back

The leaked documents, which subsequently spread to other social media platforms such as 4chan, Twitter, and Telegram, contain detailed intelligence assessments of allies and adversaries of the U.S., including the precise timings and locations of Moscow’s attacks on Kyiv in the ongoing war.

Since U.S. officials discovered the leak, the Pentagon has begun to limit the number of people who will have access to such highly classified information — some of which has been produced by the Joint Staff’s intelligence arm, also known as J2.

There are reportedly two different versions of the leaked documents circulating online — one of which has been altered to downplay the number of Russian casualties and amplify the number of Ukrainians killed in the war — which led some officials to speculate that Moscow was behind the leak.

In an earlier statement on Telegram, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that dozens of documents were fake or "altered," without providing more details, adding that the leak was likely intended to sow divisions between allies.

U.S. experts say that the scale of the leak could likely undermine the trust allies and partners like Ukraine have in the U.S., and could also provide sensitive information to Russian adversaries.


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