Source: Business Insider
The Washington Post has traced the recent Pentagon intelligence leak to a man who shared hundreds of secret files with a small group of young gamers on a private Discord server.
The unnamed man, nicknamed OG by the other server members, said he worked on a military base and claimed to know high-level government secrets withheld from the public, two unnamed group members told The Post.
Their invite-only server on Discord — a messaging and voice chat platform for gamers — had around two dozen male members worldwide who shared a passion for guns, military gear, and God, The Post reported.
As early as 2020, OG began sending the classified information to his Discord server, which was once named "Thug Shaker Central," per The Post.
OG, the server's administrator, expected the group's members to pay close attention to the flood of information he fed them, one of the two young Discord users told The Post.
"He's fit. He's strong. He's armed. He's trained. Just about everything you can expect out of some sort of crazy movie," the member said.
But at the time, OG was only sharing his own rewritten transcripts of the documents, hand-typing them with annotations, one of the Discord members told The Post. The transcripts were extensive and contained information such as the locations of top politicians and military secrets, the outlet reported.
Then in late 2022, OG became irate with the gamers for not paying attention to the secrets he shared and started sending photographs of the actual documents instead, per The Post. Furniture and household items like Gorilla Glue and nail clippers can be seen in some of his images, offering potential clues that might help authorities track him down, The Post reported.
The Post reviewed around 300 photos of classified documents, some of which have yet to be made public. An estimated 100 intelligence files have been discovered on the internet so far.
Dozens of the sensitive documents from OG's "Thug Shaker Central" Discord server eventually emerged on Russian Telegram channels and 4Chan forums in late March and early April, when authorities first became aware of the leak.
The photos had earlier circulated on several Discord servers, making their way from "Thug Shaker Central" to another server founded by YouTuber Wow_Mao in March, Bellingcat analyst Aric Toler reported.
And at least 10 documents were later sent to another Discord server dedicated to the video game "Minecraft," Toler reported. It was there that the files gained wider attention, per Toler.
After The New York Times reported on the leak on April 7, OG told everyone in Thug Shaker Central to delete messages that he sent them, as well as the classified information he had been sharing, per The Post.
"He said something had happened, and he prayed to God that his event would not happen," one of the young Discord members told The Post.
The members of his group "full-on sobbed and cried" as though they were "losing a family member," the Discord member said, per The Post.
The "Thug Shaker Central" server has been deleted, Bellingcat reported.
US officials are still trying to determine the implications of the leak and exactly how many documents were exposed.
In a previous statement to Insider, a spokesperson for Discord said the platform is "cooperating with law enforcement" but could not comment on an active investigation.
Representatives for Discord and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment for this story, sent outside regular business hours.