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Discord and Strife

Man behind U.S. intelligence leak worked on a military base, shared files with foreigners, friend says

The man who shared hundreds of classified Pentagon documents with a close-knit group on Discord worked on a military base, and the 20 or so people in the invitation-only server he moderated included Russians, Ukrainians, and other foreigners, a member of the now-deleted group told The Washington Post. The unidentified member said the man posting the documents — he referred to him as OG — was in his mid-20s and loved guns, God, and sharing government secrets with members of the group, called "Thug Shaker Central." 

The member who spoke to the Post is a minor and said he had known "OG" for about four years, greatly admired him, and considered him a close friend. He and another member told the Post they know OG's real name and where he lives, but the young member said he won't tell law enforcement until OG is captured or flees the U.S. 

He said OG first started transcribing the classified documents and posting them to the group to "keep us in the loop" with government secrets he thought they should know. When group members ignored the classified files, OG got angry and started posting photographs of the files — several of them a week, beginning late last year, the young member said. "He is not a Russian operative. He is not a Ukrainian operative," he said, describing OG as critical of what he saw as U.S. "government overreach," like "most right-wingers," but "definitely not" a "whistleblower," since he intended the documents to stay within the tiny group.

They didn't. On Feb. 28, another teenage member of Thug Shaker Central posted a few dozen of the photographed documents on a Discord server dedicated to a Filipino YouTuber called Mao. Mao told Politico this user posted "30 plus" files mostly "concerning the Russia-Ukraine war," perhaps because he was trying to be "cool" or "funny." Another user in the WaoMao group reposted 10 of those files to a Discord server focused on Minecraft on March 4, and the documents appeared on Russian Telegram channels, 4Chan, and Twitter starting April 5.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was briefed on the leak April 6 and The New York Times made the leak public later that day. Shortly before the Times posted its report, OG came onto the server "frantic, which is unusual for him," and "said something had happened, and he prayed to God that this event would not happen," the young member told the Post. OG deleted Thug Shaker Central, migrated the members to a new server, then said goodbye, telling them to "keep low and delete any information that could possibly relate to him," the member said, adding he expects OG to get caught. 

You can read more about OG, his young acolyte, and their motivations and sympathies at The Washington Post