Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was arrested at his home Thursday after being implicated in the leak of dozens of sensitive US intelligence documents — the biggest national security breach in at least 10 years.
Law enforcement officers swarmed the 21-year-old’s home in North Dighton, Mass. about 20 miles east of Providence, RI, hours after the New York Times reported that investigators wanted to speak with Teixeira, who was reportedly stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
News helicopter footage showed Teixeria, clad in red basketball shorts and a gray t-shirt, surrendering to what appeared to be camo-clad FBI agents.
“Since late last week, the FBI has aggressively pursued investigative leads, and today’s arrest exemplifies our continued commitment to identifying, pursuing and holding accountable those who betray our country’s trust and put our national security at risk,” the bureau said in a statement confirming Teixeira’s apprehension.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a brief statement following Teixeira’s apprehension, confirmed he was arrested “without incident” on charges connected to “alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information.”
The National Guard issued a statement saying: “We are aware of the investigation into the alleged role a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman may have played in the recent leak of highly-classified documents.”
Investigators believe Teixeira, who specializes in intelligence and whose promotion to Airman 1st Class was announced this past July, led the Discord chat group – known as “Thug Shaker Central” — where photos of the classified documents first surfaced, sources familiar with the probe said.
The classified pages were then disseminated after being posted on a second Discord channel linked to YouTuber “wow_mao” on Feb. 28 before quickly spreading when a member of that channel posted some of them to a bigger channel called “Minecraft Earth Map” on March 4.
Sensitive information relating to the war in Ukraine — including potential vulnerabilities in that country’s air defense capabilities — Israel and South Korea was leaked, sparking international concern. US officials were alerted last week when some of the Ukraine documents surfaced on Russian Telegram channels.
“We have rules in place,” Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Thursday, shortly after Teixeira’s arrest. “Each of us signs a nondisclosure agreement. This is a criminal act, a willful violation of those.”
The Washington Post reported that Teixeira was known to his Discord channel members by the handle “jackthedripper.” The group was made up of two dozen people who regularly discussed guns, video games and racist memes.
One member of the original channel insisted to the New York Times the leaker wasn’t a whistleblower and that he hadn’t meant for the sensitive materials to end up anywhere other than their group chat.
“This guy was a Christian, anti-war, just wanted to inform some of his friends about what’s going on,” one member told the paper. “We have some people in our group who are in Ukraine. We like fighting games, we like war games.”
But another member told the Washington Post: “He’s a smart person. He knew what he was doing when he posted these documents, of course. These weren’t accidental leaks of any kind.”
At least one of the members said the leaker had access to the intelligence materials through his work, though none of them would identify him by name.
They pointed to how the leaker took images of the classified documents to share in their chat – and that some of the furniture in the background matched items visible in his Discord video chats.
Separately, the Times reported that details of the interior of Teixeira’s childhood home from pictures posted to social media appeared to match items identified in the background of some of the photographed secret documents.
Photos of the classified documents reviewed by The Post indicated they were copies of briefing slides that had been photographed on a desk or table before being shared online. In at least two photographs, a brochure with apparent information about a rifle scope can be seen in the background.
Teixeira’s arrest came just hours after President Biden told reporters in Ireland that federal investigators were “getting close” to uncovering the leaker’s identity – but insisted he wasn’t overly concerned about the leak.
“There’s a full-blown investigation going on, as you know, with the intelligence community and the Justice Department, and they’re getting close but I don’t have an answer,” Biden told reporters. In Dublin.1119
What do you think? Post a comment.
“I’m not concerned about the leak, I’m concerned that it happened but there is nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of.”
With Post wires
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