Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
The Department of Justice has arrested a lower-enlisted member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard on suspicion that he was connected to or responsible for the well-publicized leak of U.S. intelligence relating to the war in Ukraine.
Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed that Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, had been taken into custody “without incident” in connection to the ongoing investigation into the alleged “unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information.”
Teixeira holds the rank of airman first class and has been stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, where he serves as a cyber transport systems journeyman. Garland said Teixeira will face an initial hearing before a U.S. district judge in Massachusetts, but he did not specify a date.
The FBI’s Boston field office, which headed the investigation, indicated through a statement that agents had been hard at work to identify a suspect or suspects since a cache of intelligence documents were found online last month.
That investigation appears to have led authorities to Teixeira’s residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts, which is located in the southern portion of the state.
“The FBI is continuing to conduct authorized law enforcement activity at the residence,” the statement reads. “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.”
FBI Statement on today's arrest of Jack Douglas Teixeira, of North Dighton, Massachusetts. pic.twitter.com/SC81ryuhRC
— FBI Boston (@FBIBoston) April 13, 2023
The New York Times reports that Teixeira belongs to the online gaming group from which the leak originated.
According to Fox News, Teixeira had previously held the highest possible level of security clearance issued for personnel who work with top-secret material. That clearance has since been revoked.
A STRANGE NEW TREND
This is not the first time that military secrets have been found in an online gaming space, and the United States is not the first nation to have been victimized.
While certainly not commonplace, numerous members on online gaming communities have been caught sharing classified information.
PC Gamer has a far more robust exploration of the topic, but members of gaming communities have – sometimes unintentionally – sought to impress their virtual colleagues or otherwise critique the realism of military-themed video games by disclosing such information as design features of tanks.
At least one user on an online forum dedicated to the video game “War Thunder,” shared a document to prove his assertions about the design of an F-16 fighter jet were legitimate. Similar information has been shared about Canadian tanks.
The Ukraine leak, though, is a new permutation of the odd new online trend as it contained scores of documents relating to American intelligence gathered about Russia in Ukraine as well as U.S. allies like South Korea and Israel.
As of this writing, authorities have still not determined how long the leaked Ukraine documents were online prior to being discovered.