Secret US documents were leaked online by young gun enthusiast – report

Sources tell Washington Post classified material was posted to social media group tinged with racism, antisemitism, by user ‘OG,’ who claims to work at secure military facility

A TV screen shows a news program reporting on the leaked Pentagon documents at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, April 12, 2023. (Ahn Young-joon/Ap)
A TV screen shows a news program reporting on the leaked Pentagon documents at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, April 12, 2023. (Ahn Young-joon/Ap)

The source behind a leak of highly sensitive US government documents is a young gun enthusiast who first shared them on a social media group with racist and antisemitic currents, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The breach — which has sparked a criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice — includes classified information about Ukraine’s battle against invading Russian forces, as well as secret assessments of US allies.

Two members of a group on online social platform Discord told The Post that hundreds of pages of material had been posted there by a man who told them he worked on a US military base and brought the documents home with him.

The man, who went by the nickname “OG,” posted documents on the group regularly for months, the group members told The Post, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Some information in the documents was so sensitive it was marked “NOFORN,” meaning it was not to be shared with foreign nationals, The Post reported.

The group of around 24, including people from Russia and Ukraine, bonded over their “mutual love of guns, military gear, and God,” and formed an “invitation-only clubhouse in 2020 on Discord,” The Post reported.

A Discord display stands at the company’s booth at the Game Developers Conference 2023 in San Francisco on March 22, 2023. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

OG told the group members that he spent “some of his day inside a secure facility that prohibited cellphones and other electronic devices,” the paper reported.

He also told them that he “toiled for hours writing up the classified documents to share with his companions in the Discord server,” the paper reported.

The group also appeared to have racist and antisemitic undertones.

In one video described by The Post, the man purported to be OG stands at a shooting range, wearing safety glasses and ear coverings and holding a large rifle. “He yells a series of racial and antisemitic slurs into the camera, then fires several rounds at a target,” the report says.

It also notes that the group’s eventual name, Thug Shaker Central, was a racist allusion, and signaled to members that they were free to hurl epithets and crude jokes.

The young member who spoke to The Post downplayed this as a clumsy attempt at humor. It was not “a fascist recruiting server,” he said.

Security risk

Dozens of photographs of documents have been found on Twitter, Telegram, Discord, and other sites in recent days, though some may have circulated online for weeks, if not months, before they began to receive media attention.

US officials have not publicly confirmed that the materials shown in photographs posted on social media and other sites are genuine, and their authenticity could not immediately be independently verified.

Nevertheless, the leak has created headaches for Washington, exposing US concerns over the viability of a coming Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces and suggesting it conducted spying on staunch allies Israel and South Korea.

Ukrainian soldiers pass by an apartment building damaged by the recent Russian shelling in war-hit Avdiivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, April 12, 2023. (Libkos/AP)

Many of the documents are no longer available on the sites where they first appeared, and the United States is reportedly working to have them removed.

The fallout from the apparent leak could be significant — even deadly — potentially putting US intelligence sources at risk, while giving the country’s foes valuable information.

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