Who is Jack Teixeira? Suspect in Pentagon leaks case

Kerem Gülen
Apr 17, 2023
Updated • Apr 17, 2023

According to a report by the BBC, individuals close to Jack Douglas Teixeira, the 21-year-old accused of sharing classified US intelligence documents, have denied that he is a whistleblower.

This raises the question of why someone in his position, with limited experience and no clear motive, would allegedly share sensitive information online.

The leaked documents, which were numerous and contained confidential data on the war in Ukraine and other national security issues, have led FBI investigators to search for a potential motive for Teixeira's actions. Teixeira made his first appearance in federal court, dressed in a beige jumpsuit and handcuffed, on Friday.

He has been charged with the unauthorised removal and retention of classified documents and materials, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if he is found guilty. During the hearing, Teixeira did not enter a plea.

The fact that Jack Douglas Teixeira's family has a background in military service, and that he himself has had an interest in joining the military, has raised additional concerns about his alleged decision to put US national security at risk by leaking classified intelligence files.

Teixeira's stepfather served in the military for 34 years before retiring, and his mother was employed at non-profit organisations that assist veterans, as per public records and LinkedIn.

On Veterans Day, she would share family pictures. Teixeira's parents were present at his court hearing on Friday, but they did not speak to the large group of journalists gathered outside the courtroom as they departed.

The Teixeira family resides in North Dighton, Massachusetts, and Jack Teixeira finished high school there in 2020. FBI agents apprehended him outside of their rural home on Thursday, with heavy weaponry.

According to CNN, one of his former high school classmates was taken aback by the allegations of his involvement in the leak and stated, "I could never have foreseen him doing that." Residents in the area have described Teixeira as an individual who was enthusiastic about video games but was not a troublemaker and a "good kid." Neighbours also mentioned that he was interested in joining the military and had a sensible outlook.

Jack Teixeira used Discord to leak files

Jack Teixeira is believed to have initially leaked the classified files on the popular gaming chatroom platform, Discord. Going by the moniker "OG", he was the leader of an invite-only chatroom called Thug Shaker Central, which he created in 2020 during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to The Washington Post, the group, which had about two dozen members, shared "memes, offensive jokes, and idle chitchat." They would watch movies, talk about their favourite firearms, and exchange messages about the Ukrainian conflict.

The Associated Press reported that they would also pray together. One member of the chatroom referred to Teixeira as a young, charismatic enthusiast of guns, while others stated that he was older than most in the group and appeared to be attempting to impress them.

It has been reported that prior to sharing the intelligence images in January, Jack Teixeira wrote up various versions of the classified information and shared it with the Thug Shaker Central chatroom members. However, due to a lack of response, he allegedly started sharing pictures of the files around January 2023 out of frustration.

The Washington Post noted that Teixeira sent a disgruntled message to the group, expressing annoyance that they were more interested in watching YouTube videos.

He got upset, and he said on multiple occasions, if you guys aren't going to interact with them [the files], I'm going to stop sending them," the unidentified group member stated.

Initially, the leaks remained confined to the small Thug Shaker Central chatroom, but in early March, members began to post them on other Discord servers, including servers dedicated to the Minecraft game and a Filipino YouTuber.

Investigators suggest that Teixeira was attempting to determine whether or not the intelligence community had identified him as the leaker and that he began using his government-issued computer in April to search for the term "leak." The Washington Post received videos from a group member, which reportedly showed Teixeira shouting racist and anti-Semitic slurs before firing a rifle.

Photo of Jack Teixeira - Image source: BBC

According to the Post, he informed the group that he worked in a facility where cell phones were not permitted.

Jack Teixeira reportedly used several usernames online, such as TheExcaliburEffect, jackdjdtex, and TexKilledYou. According to a teenager in the group, Teixeira, who was a Christian and anti-war, simply wanted to inform some of his friends about what was happening.

In 2019, Teixeira enlisted in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, a reserve component of the US Air Force, with the title of cyber transport systems journeyman, holding the junior rank of Airman 1st Class. He possesses top-secret security clearance, which requires him to sign a "lifetime binding non-disclosure agreement" acknowledging that the unauthorized disclosure of protected information could result in criminal charges, as stated in court documents.

The Air Force's official website states that individuals in his position are responsible for maintaining the Air Force's global communication network and that the job requires a background check, specifically a single scope background investigation (SSBI), to gain access to top-secret information.

According to The New York Times, Jack Teixeira's mother claimed that he had been working overnight on the base before his arrest. On 6 April, around the same time that media outlets began reporting on the leak, Teixeira supposedly searched for the term "leak" in classified intelligence reporting on his government-issued computer.

The case of Jack Teixeira, the Airman accused of leaking classified US intelligence files, continues to baffle investigators as they try to determine his motives. The fact that he comes from a family with a military background, coupled with his desire to join the military, raises questions as to why he would jeopardize US national security by leaking sensitive information.


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  1. Anonymous said on April 26, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    What’s the reason of whoever/whatever does the moderation here not to have published my comment ?

  2. Richard Steven Hack said on April 18, 2023 at 6:39 am

    “hardware money” s/b “hardware monkey”…

  3. Richard Steven Hack said on April 18, 2023 at 6:39 am

    If you look up what “cyber transport systems journeyman” is, you’ll find that he is little more than a “hardware money”, responsible for swapping out network routers and the like, albeit with knowledge of security hardware associated with secure military systems.

    There is zero chance, according to people with knowledge of the kinds of access required to obtain the documents released, that a person in his position could obtain those documents. No one outside the higher reaches of the DoD or the Director of National Intelligence could get them.

    In the charging documents, the FBI refers to his title as “cyber defense journeyman”, which is an entirely different classification, apparently intended to bolster the idea that he had the capability to access those documents.

    The notion that he was dumb enough to actually search classified documents to see if he was being identified was also added to the charging documents to bolster this idea, even though anyone with that higher classification would know that all such documents are logged and access identified.

    This guy is nothing like Ed Snowden, who had full systems administrator access to everything in the NSA. Any comparison is completely wrong headed.

    The most likely explanation is that someone high up in the DoD or DNI set up this leak in order to oppose the Biden foreign policy on Ukraine. This is the considered opinion of several ex-CIA analysts and operations officers such as Ray McGovern and Larry Johnson, who have cogently argued that based on their experience with such documents and SCIF rooms that there is no way this kid could have obtained those documents without help from someone higher up.

    As usual, nothing about these MSM media stories is what it seems.

  4. Gasper said on April 17, 2023 at 8:51 pm

    Ghacks is a technology news blog?

  5. 1337 pUpp37 h4x0rz said on April 17, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    Having an Original Gangster (OG) username gives you clues the US airman was possibly trying to impress others. He comes off as very immature for his age, and it’s questionable why he was given clearance.

    You’d think a Cyber defence operations journeyman, would be a little smarter than post “top secret” photos on Discord just to become famous on social media. Maybe he also spent far too long talking to chatbots.

  6. Robert said on April 17, 2023 at 2:37 pm

    He sounds like he is a script kiddy who made a stupid mistake. A real hacker would war-drive for free wifi. Use a disposable USB operating system to leak information such as TAILS. And make an fake account. This guy used discord. I wouldn’t doubt that he also used a rubber ducky to obtain information.

  7. Jasper said on April 17, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    This reads like a straightforward story about current events to me, written journalistically. I see no evidence of spewing. I would agree it’s only tangentially related to technology.

  8. John C. said on April 17, 2023 at 12:38 pm

    This is not the kind of article I like seeing here. I avoid the news religiously, detest it when such garbage leaks into this technology website. Please resist the urge to spew such stuff here and instead, stick to useful information about programming.

    1. Oxa said on April 17, 2023 at 3:34 pm

      Two thumbs up!

      Who is Kerem Gülen?

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