Jack Teixeira, the Air National Guardsman implicated in a vast leak of classified documents, was fixated on weapons, mass shootings, shadowy conspiracy theories — and proving he was in the right, and in the know.
Even as he relished the respectability and access to intelligence he gained through his military service and top secret clearance, he seethed with contempt about the government, accusing the United States of a host of secret, nefarious activities: making biological and chemical weapons in Ukrainian labs, creating the Islamic State, even orchestrating mass shootings.
“The FBI and other 3 letter agencies contact these unhinged mentally ill kids and convince them to do mass shootings,” Airman Teixeira, 21, wrote in an online chat group, sharing a debunked conspiracy theory after a gunman killed three people at a mall in Indiana last summer.
In messages posted on Discord, a social media platform popular among gamers, Airman Teixeira claimed that the 20-year-old gunman behind the rampage at Greenwood Park Mall was one of many mass shooters groomed by the American government as part of a secret plot “to make people vote for” gun control.
The posts are part of a huge trove of previously unreported chat logs obtained by The New York Times. The Discord server, exclusively reviewed by The Times, is one of at least two in which Airman Teixeira shared U.S. intelligence on Ukrainian readiness, battlefield commands from the Kremlin and secret arms shipments by American allies, along with reports of internal friction on all sides. The airman, who was charged with two counts related to the unauthorized handling of classified materials, could face 25 years in prison for his involvement in the leak.
The new messages from Airman Teixeira, more than 9,500 in all, leave many questions unanswered about his motivations, but they fill in substantial gaps left by court filings and offer important clues about his mind-set. He seems to have seen himself, in a sense, as the author of an insider newsletter founded to educate his online friends — not a whistle-blower plotting a grand exposé of government secrets. [Continue reading…]