Jack Teixeira is a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who is accused of being the leader of a “small online gaming chat group” called “Thug Shaker Central,” where secret U.S. classified and defense documents were leaked and posted, according to the New York Times and CBS News.
“Today the Justice Department arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified national defense information,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced in a news conference. On April 13, 2023, he was charged with “unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information” and “unauthorized removal of classified information and defense materials,” according to the probable cause affidavit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. See the charging document here.
Teixeira is a member of the United States Air Force National Guard, Garland said. “FBI agents took Teixeira into custody earlier this afternoon without incident,” the attorney general said on April 13, 2023, saying that Teixiera would have an initial appearance in a Massachusetts federal court.
Teixeira’s mother, Dawn Teixeira Dufault, has a long history of working on veterans issues, including for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was once the national CEO of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), according to her LinkedIn page.
Teixeira’s stepfather, Master Sergeant Thomas P. Dufault, “retired from the 102nd Intelligence Wing after 34 years of honorable service at a ceremony held on April 6, 2019, at Joint Base Cape Cod, Mass,” according to the caption on a set of military photos.
CBS News reported that three law enforcement officials say authorities believe Teixeira leaked the documents.
The Times earlier reported that Teixeira “oversaw the private online group named Thug Shaker Central.” Bellingcat, which has been investigating the documents for days, reported that the leaked documents “appear to detail events and offer analysis of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine up until March 2023.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jack Teixeira’s Mother, Dawn Teixeira Dufault, Once Worked in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services/Department of Veterans Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
According to WPRI, Teixeira, 21, “lives in Dighton, Mass.,” and law enforcement had gathered at “a single-family home whose owner is listed by the local assessor’s office as Dawn Teixeira.”
CBS News reported that federal law enforcement officials “have identified the person suspected of leaking secret defense and intelligence documents that have circulated online.”
CBS News then named Teixeira as that person.
The New York Times spoke with Teixeira’s mother, Dawn, “outside her home in Massachusetts.” While doing so, “someone who appeared to be Airman Teixeira drove onto the property in a red pickup truck,” the Times reported.
On a second visit, the Times asked to speak with Teixeira and a man with Teixeira’s mother told the newspaper, “He needs to get an attorney if things are flowing the way they are going right now. The Feds will be around soon, I’m sure,” the Times reported.
According to The Cape Cod Times, Jack Teixeira’s “stepfather Tom Dufault and stepbrother Alex Dufault also worked at Joint Base Cape Cod,” Teixeira’s step-uncle James Dufault told the newspaper.
In 2015, Dawn Teixeira, who has also used the name Dawn Dufault, wrote an article for Wicked Local.com about being named “president and CEO” of SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions.
View this post on Instagram
“As a parent, I believe it is our primary responsibility to educate our children about and protect them from negative influences,” she wrote in that article. “Some things, however, are out of our control, especially as our children gain independence in middle and high school, where other adult role models, the media, and peers have influence over daily decisions, from the clothes they wear, activities they choose and risks they take to how they perceive themselves and the world.”
Dawn Teixeira’s LinkedIn page says she was SADD’s CEO from 2015 to 2017. Before that, she worked in the executive office of Health and Human Services/Department of Veterans Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, her LinkedIn page says.
“Lead for the Secretary of Department of Veterans Services and the Commissioner of MA Rehabilitation Commission in developing and implementing a process for multi-agency home modification program for disabled veterans as required under Section 28 of VALOR Act II, signed into law in 2014,” it says.
Dawn Teixeira also worked as a nonprofit development and marketing strategy consultant serving “a variety of organizations in the fields of military/veteran support” and as a “service corps management and strategy consultant” for Brigham and Women’s Hospital,” her LinkedIn page says.
She served on the board of directors for the Massachusetts military heroes fund and as a committee member for the Boston Survivors Accessibility Alliance to help survivors of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack, the page says.
She also worked as a wreath volunteer at Arlington National Cemetery and for the Marine Corps Marathon Fundraising team, according to the LinkedIn page.
According to her LinkedIn page, Dawn Teixeira Dufault was also executive director and founding board member of a group called Homes for Our Troops in the Greater Boston Area.
“Accountable for the achievement of mission goals and objectives of a rapidly growing non-profit organization whose mission is to rebuild the lives of post 9/11, US military veterans who are disabled as a result of their service,” she wrote.
She added: “Proud to have four family members currently serving/served in the Army and Army National Guard.”
Dawn Teixeira’s mother Patricia “worked as a nurse for over 40 years while investing in multi-family rental homes in Massachusetts and Maine,” according to an obituary, which says she “was well-known for generosity in the community through her Thrift Shop where she greeted everyone with a smile.” That obituary gives Dawn Teixeira’s husband’s name as Thomas Dufault.
A LinkedIn page says Dawn Teixeira Dufault is now owner and head grower of a farm and flower company in Dighton, Massachusetts.
2. Jack Teixeira, Who Carried Around a ‘Dictionary-Sized’ Book on Firearms in High School, Was Working ‘Overnight Shifts’ on Cape Cod for the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Reports Say
Teixeira is a member of the “intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard,” The Times reported. Teixeira “is listed as a low-level member of the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the Air National Guard, based on Cape Cod. He was stationed at Joint Base Cape Cod for a portion of his time in the military,” The Cape Cod Times reported.
The affidavit says Teixeira “has been serving as an E-3/Airman First Class in the USANG and has been stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts. Teixeira enlisted in the USANG in September 2019 as an E-1 rank. As of February 2023, Teixeira’s title was Cyber Defense Operations Journeyman.”
“As required for this position, Teixeira holds a Top Secret security clearance, which was granted in 2021,” the affidavit says. “Based on my training and experience, I know that to acquire his security clearance, Teixeira would have signed a lifetime binding non-disclosure agreement in which he would have had to acknowledge that the unauthorized disclosure of protected information could result in criminal charges.”
On July 7, 2022, the 102 Intelligence Wing wrote on Facebook, “Congratulations to some of the 102nd Intelligence Wing’s most recent promotees! Way to go!!!” Included with that post was a graphic that listed service members being lauded.
Teixeira’s name was listed under the header “airman 1st class.”
“You might want to take this post and photo down,” a woman wrote on the comment thread after the stories about Teixeira broke.
According to The Times, Teixeira’s mother “confirmed that her son was a member of the Air National Guard and said he had recently been working overnight shifts at a base on Cape Cod,” and said he recently changed his phone number.
Teixeira “is a graduate of Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School,” WPRI reported.
In high school, Teixeira carried around a “dictionary-sized” book on firearms and one on “tanks, planes and submarines,” former high school classmates told CNN. “Others said he made them feel uneasy. He made comments some perceived as racist and showed up for school after the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas wearing a shirt emblazoned with an AR-15,” CNN reported.
“A lot of people were wary of him,” said Brooke Cleathero, a former classmate told CNN.
3. The ‘Thug Shaker Central’ Group’s Leader Was Described as ‘Christian, Anti-War’
The Cape Cod Times reported that “Thug Shaker Central” was a “private chat group was comprised of about 20 to 30 people, mostly young men and teens.”
The New York Times reported that members of the Thug Shaker Central chat group spoke with the newspaper, and one claimed to have met the leader in person, referring to him as “O.G.,” and older than other members.
The Times quoted a friend of the Thug Shaker Central group’s leader as saying, “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 Times reported that a “trail of digital evidence compiled by The Times leads to Airman Teixeira.”
This evidence included Teixeira’s “online gaming profile” and family photos posted to social media, which the Times reported “also match details on the margins of some of the photographs of the leaked secret documents.”
According to Bellingcat, the documents were photographed and contained “creases” and items “such as a hunter’s scope box and some Gorilla Glue visible in the background.” The documents discussed topics including “maps of hotspots in Ukraine such as Bakhmut and Kharkiv, a delivery timetable for Western munitions to Ukraine as well as maps and catalogues of Ukrainian air defence assets,” Bellingcat reported.
4. The Classified Documents Were Posted on Discord, a Messaging Platform Used by Gamers, Reports Say
According to CNN, prosecutors say Teixeira “held a top secret security clearance and allegedly began posting information about the documents online around December 2022, and photos of documents in January.”
He worked for an intelligence wing that takes in “intelligence from various sources and packages it for some of the most senior military leaders around the globe,” CNN reported, adding that prosecutors accuse Teixeira of taking documents home and searching the word “leak” on a computer.
The FBI interviewed a social media platform user who described an individual posting government information as paragraphs of text and then posting documents, according to the affidavit.
One document described “the status of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, including troop movements,” the affidavit says, adding that it was “based on sensitive U.S. intelligence.”
Teixeira is accused of telling another person that he was concerned he might be discovered so he began taking documents home to photograph them, the affidavit says.
On April 6, 2023, Teixeira is accused of useing his “government computer to search classified intelligence reporting for the word ‘leak,'” the affidavit says.
“The first public reporting regarding the Government Information appeared on or around April 6, 2023. Accordingly, there is reason to believe that Teixeira was searching for classified reporting regarding the U.S. Intelligence Community’s assessment of the identity of the individual who transmitted classified national defense information, to include the Government Document,” the affidavit says.
Bellingcat reported that the documents “started propagating through pro-Russian Telegram channels,” including the Telegram channel “Donbass Devushka.” Then a 4chan user posted about them, the site reported, sharing this link. Bellingcat reported that statistics shared on these different platforms differed, however, and one document may have been altered to “paint the Ukrainian losses as heavier.”
A month later, according to Bellingcat, “10 documents were posted in a Discord server called ‘Minecraft Earth Map.'” Documents were also shared on “a Discord server called WowMao, run by and for fans of a popular YouTuber of the same name,” Bellingcat reported.
Bellingcat then spoke with members of “a separate Discord community who claimed that other images had been posted earlier on yet another, since deleted, server often called ‘Thug Shaker Central’ but which also had several other names at different times.” As for Thug Shaker Central, Bellingcat noted, “There are no traces left of this server outside of testimony from these users, and scattered references to its existence on 4chan.”
An online site called Bellingcat and the Washington Post have been digging into the online history of the group.
“These documents appeared to be dated to early March, around the time they were first posted online on Discord, a messaging platform popular with gamers,” Bellingcat reported.
However, Bellingcat also wrote that it “has seen evidence that some documents dated to January could have been posted online even earlier, although it is unclear exactly when.”
Bellingcat wrote that “three members of the Discord community” claimed “that many more documents had been shared across other Discord servers in recent months.”
5. Members of ‘Thug Shaker Central’ Told The Times That They ‘Took No Side’ in the Ukrainian Conflict
According to The Times, “members of Thug Shaker Central” told the newspaper that “the documents they discussed online were meant to be purely informative.” They told The Times they “took no side in the conflict,” the newspaper reported.
“There’s a full blown investigation going on, as you know, with the intelligence community and the Justice Department, and they’re getting close,” President Joe Biden said, according to The Times.
READ NEXT: Louisville Active Shooter Connor Sturgeon.