Jack Teixeira: What do we know about Pentagon leak suspect?

Air National Guard member has been arrested as US scrambles to find source of damning military intelligence leaks.

Yayınlanma: 15.04.2023 - 17:02
Jack Teixeira: What do we know about Pentagon leak suspect?
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The FBI arrested a suspect on Thursday in connection with the recent leak of classified US military documents that roiled American allies with reports of spying and disclosure of sensitive information.

The suspect is Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the US Air Force National Guard, who was arrested “without incident” at his family home in Dighton, a small town in rural Massachusetts.

As US and international media ran footage of the arrests, there were more questions than answers about the man dressed in red shorts and a grey T-shirt being led away by heavily armed agents.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland put out a statement saying that his arrest was part of “an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified national defense information.”

Other than that, authorities have offered little to no details about Teixeira, but a picture of his life – and actions leading to his arrest – has slowly started to emerge.

Who is Jack Teixeira?

Teixeira graduated from high school in his hometown of Dighton, Massachusetts just three years ago.

He joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard, a reserve of the US Air Force, in 2019, according to a CNN report, which cited his official service record.

His official job title is Cyber Transport Systems journeyman, who the Air Force says are specialists “tasked with making sure the service’s ‘vast, global communications network’ is ‘operating properly’,” the report added.

In 2022, he joined the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, with the service congratulating him in a Facebook post.

Last July, he was promoted to Airman 1st Class and was stationed at the Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod.

What did he do on his far-right Discord group?

US officials believe Teixeira was the person running a server on Discord, a communication platform popular among gamers, which was the first place where hastily snapped photos of the military documents were first posted.

Using the alias “OG” in the Discord chatroom, Teixeira allegedly told the around 30 mostly male members of the group that he spent time inside a secure facility where phones were banned, according to a Washington Post report.

The Discord chatroom named “Thug Shaker Central” was reportedly used by proponents of a far-right ideology, which was why it had an “invitation only” policy.

Racist memes and antisemitic content were regularly shared in the group, according to the report.

The user named OG even shared a video which showed him shooting a large rifle and spewing racial and antisemitic slurs, it added.

Over the course of months, he shared information about classified topics ranging from the Ukraine war to alleged US spying on world leaders like UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as well as other allies such as Israel and South Korea.

He would type up transcripts at first and then eventually started leaking actual documents, according to reports.

What were his motives?

Other members of Teixeira’s Discord group have rushed to his defense, saying the documents were not shared in bad faith.

He was not a whistleblower, but just a young man who wanted to “show off” to his friends, a user told the Washington Post.

Teixeira never believed the photos would ever go past this server, according to the user.

“This guy was a Christian, anti-war, just wanted to inform some of his friends about what’s going on. We have some people in our group who are in Ukraine. We like fighting games, we like war games,” the report quoted another member as saying.

What will happen to Teixeira?

Later on Friday he will be in court in Massachusetts for his initial appearance.

There is also a possibility that he could face charges in a military court.

As an active-duty soldier, Teixeira faces very grim prospects.

Under the US army’s Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), espionage is one of the 18 – 14 in peacetime – offenses punishable by death.

Even though there are reportedly some people on death row for UCMJ violations, the last soldier to be executed under the law was John Bennett, who was hanged at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas in 1961.

While he might not face the gallows, Teixeira is probably looking at a long time behind bars.

Is there another leaker?

The nature of the leaks has also raised some pressing questions.

For instance, how did a 21-year-old junior military member get access to such classified files, some of which carried seals of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff?

There is speculation about the possible involvement of another military official, a person with a higher rank who could have a higher level of clearance.

Social media users have been pushing the theory that Teixeira could just be the outlet that the original source – or whistleblower for some – used to leak the files.

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