On Thursday, the FBI arrested a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard in connection with a leak of classified documents that were posted online, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday.
The arrest of 21-year-old Jack Teixeira comes after the US government launched a swift search for the person who posted classified documents on a social network popular with gamers.
Teixeira was arrested in Massachusetts without incident and will face federal trial there, Garland said. “This investigation is ongoing. We will share more information at the appropriate time,” the attorney general said, declining to answer questions.
Teixeira will appear in court for the first time on Friday in Boston, according to local prosecutors.
The FBI said in a statement that it took Teixeira into custody “at a residence in North Dayton, Massachusetts, for his alleged involvement in the leak of classified US government and military documents.”
“The FBI continues to conduct authorized law enforcement activities at the residence,” the agency said in a statement. “The FBI has been actively investigating since late last week, and today’s arrest demonstrates our continued commitment to identifying, prosecuting, and holding accountable those who betray our country’s trust and endanger our national security.”
The leaked documents posted on social media, some obtained by CNN, included detailed intelligence assessments of allies and adversaries, including on the state of the war in Ukra*ne and the challenges Kiev and Moscow are facing as the war appears to be stuck in a stalemate. .
Several U.S. officials told CNN that Teixeira is believed to be the leader of the group that housed the collection of classified documents.
The search for the suspect began with thousands of people with access to the documents, but investigators were able to quickly narrow the search down to potential members of a chat group with evidence gathered in the days following US officials’ discovery of classified documents online. .
Retired lieutenant. the general explains why the people behind the leak of the Pentagon documents are not “mastermind criminals”
While a large number of people had access to the documents, investigators were able to focus on a small number for closer examination thanks to the forensic trail left by the person who posted the documents.
Teixeira had been under surveillance for at least a couple of days before he was arrested by the FBI on Thursday, according to a US government source familiar with the case.
Earlier Thursday, President Joe Biden appeared to suggest that the US government was close to identifying the source of the leak. Biden was then briefed on the arrest between his speech in Parliament and his departure for a banquet in his honor at Dublin Castle, according to a US official. Between the two events, he was in the hotel for about 90 minutes.
Biden is regularly briefed on the investigation, as well as efforts by his top officials to engage with allies who have been identified or concerned about the contents of the leaked information, according to officials, officials said. One official acknowledged that behind the scenes, this was the reality that hung over Biden’s deeply personal and important foreign trip.
The Air Force has published official information about Teixeira, pilot 1st class.
Teixeira is an enlisted airman in the Massachusetts Air National Guard, according to details from his service record released by the Air Force on Thursday. He joined the service in September 2019 and his official job is as an apprentice for Cyber Transport Systems. Cyber Transport Systems is tasked with making sure the service’s “extensive global communications network” is “working properly,” according to the BBC.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post first reported that the person behind the leak worked at a military base and posted important national security secrets to an online group of acquaintances. Licker was described in a Post article as a lonely young man and gun enthusiast who was a member of a chatroom of about two dozen people on Discord — a social media platform popular with video gamers — who shared a love of guns and military gear. a friend of the alleged leader who was interviewed by the Post, who was also part of the group.
Several of Teixeira’s former high school classmates told CNN on Thursday that he is addicted to the military, guns and war. He sometimes wore camouflage uniforms to school, carried “a dictionary-sized book on weap*ns” with him, and acted in ways that made some of his classmates uncomfortable.
“A lot of people were wary of him,” said Brooke Cletero, who went to middle and high school with Teixeira. “He was more of a loner, and his fascination with war and guns put a lot of people off.”
John Powell, who also went to middle and high school with Teixeira, said he remembers him as a nice and quiet kid who was sometimes bullied. “He didn’t have many friends,” he said.
According to public records, Teixeira grew up in suburban Providence, Rhode Island. According to the Regional School District Principal, he attended Dayton Rehoboth High School, graduating in 2020.
Powell recalled how Teixeira occasionally carried around a textbook on military technology—tanks, aircraft, and submarines—and from an early age was fascinated by everything “related to the military.”
“Even as a child, he was determined to enter some branch of the military,” he said.
Other students, who asked not to be named, said they picked up a more menacing atmosphere from Teixeira, who some recall making comments they considered racist or mumbling derogatory things about people under his breath.
One student recalled showing up to school wearing an AR-15 shirt the day after the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting.
Teixeira didn’t act in a way that “people felt the need to report him,” another former classmate said, “but “he made me nervous.”
The same student said she took his involvement with the military as a form of American nationalism and was therefore surprised by the accusations against him. “I didn’t think he was capable of something like that,” she said.
On Thursday, Biden said he was concerned about the leak itself, but not necessarily about its content.
“I’m not worried about the leak. I’m concerned that this happened, but I don’t know of anything that would have any consequences.”
The Pentagon has begun restricting who in the government receives highly classified daily intelligence reports after the leak.
Some US officials who used to receive news items daily have stopped receiving them in recent days, people familiar with the matter told CNN as the Pentagon Joint Staff continues to cut its mailing lists.
The Joint Headquarters, which includes the most senior Defense Department officials in uniform who advise the President, began scouring its mailing lists immediately after learning of a plethora of leaked classified documents, many of which were marked to indicate they had been prepared. Intelligence of the Joint Staff. hand known as J2.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday he is directing the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security to review access to intelligence following the arrest of an Air National Guardsman.
“As Secretary of Defense, I will also not hesitate to take any additional measures necessary to protect our nation’s secrets,” Austin said. “Accordingly, I am directing the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security to review our procedures for intelligence access, accountability and oversight within the Department to inform our efforts to prevent similar incidents from happening again.”
Pentagon spokesman Brig. General Patrick Ryder confirmed on Thursday that the Department of Defense is taking steps to expand the community of people receiving classified intelligence.
Ryder said the Pentagon continues to “look at various factors related to the protection of classified material. This includes reviewing and updating mailing lists, evaluating how and where analytics products are shared, and many other steps.”
Ryder also stressed that “strict rules” already exist to protect classified intelligence information.
“It was a deliberate criminal act,” he said, “a violation of these rules.”
The criminal investigation is being conducted by the local FBI office in Washington, including a team of counterintelligence investigators with experience in finding leaks.
These investigators are also working with Pentagon officials on damage assessments that will form part of the evidence to be used in any potential prosecution.
This title and story has been updated to reflect additional events.