Jack Teixeira, who is alleged to have leaked several highly classified intelligence documents online via gaming servers, was once denied a gun license.
When he was a sophomore at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School, a classmate “overheard him make remarks about weapons, including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school, and racial threats,” according to court documents. The Wall Street Journal has more:
That episode prompted Massachusetts authorities twice to deny the B-average student a firearms identification card, a license to possess and carry guns issued by local police departments. Authorities cited local police concerns about his actions in high school.
The following year, after graduating high school, he joined the Air National Guard’s 102nd Air Intelligence Unit, where his stepfather, a service member for 34 years before retiring, had also served. By 2020, he had completed basic training and received a top-secret clearance.
In a November 2020 letter to a firearms officer—now his third effort to get a gun license—Airman Teixeira cited his security clearance as a reason he could be trusted to possess a firearm, according to court documents.
Teixeira is accused of improperly accessing and then leaking classified U.S. intelligence over Discord servers – digital communication services geared primarily toward gamers. It’s believed that Teixeira, in an effort to brag to fellow gamers on those servers, shared the documents with them in order to prove he had access to classified materials.
The leak is the most serious breach of U.S. classified information in 13 years after a document stash containing 700,000 documents was obtained by the website WikiLeaks in 2010. Teixeira was arrested on charges related to that leak, and prosecutors are looking into more charges. New evidence is being presented to a grand jury, various legal experts say, and a conviction on the Espionage Act charge carries up to 10 years in federal prison.
But the calls for violence that prevented him from getting a gun prior to his service are also “a persistent topic in his messages,” the WSJ notes.
In one of his earliest messages, he wrote he hoped Islamic State successfully carried out a purported planned attack at the World Cup. “If I had my way,” he wrote, he would kill a “ton of people,” adding a four-letter expletive. One month later, he began leaking top security documents, according to the prosecution’s court filings.
By early 2023, the 21-year-old admitted sharing national security secrets, told his online associates that he was rooting for groups like Islamic State, and used his government computer to search terms like “Las Vegas shooting” and “Uvalde,” referring to the May 2022 shooting in Texas that killed 19 students and two teachers, according to court documents. When news of his actions began to appear in the media, prosecutors said, he asked his friends to delete all messages and remain silent. Federal prosecutors said he had a cache of weapons, some of which he kept just feet from his bed.
One of the questions some in the intelligence community continue to ask is how Teixeira got access to the classified documents he leaked. According to former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Kash Patel, there appears to be no reason Teixeira could have been able to access the level of intelligence he’d obtained.
The mystery only deepened on Thursday when two commanders in his unit were also removed from their posts. That unit had previously lost its intelligence mission.
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