The Massachusetts Air National Guard member accused of leaking highly classified documents set his sights on joining the military from an early age. But more recently he expressed disillusionment about having enlisted.
Jack Teixeira, 21, was charged on Friday in US District Court in Boston with unauthorised removal and retention of classified and national defence information – a breach that has caused an international uproar and exposed explicit US assessments on the war in Ukraine and other closely held secrets.
Two of his former classmates told The Boston Globe that Teixeira revered the military and showed an early interest in joining. He was especially focused on the history of war and weapons.
“From a young age, I remember he would have a book on, I believe, US military aircraft, armaments, like a real big textbook,” John Powell told the Globe.
Though Powell remembered Teixeira being bullied in middle school, he told the newspaper the young man was an optimist and “sweetheart” with an especially close relationship with his stepdad, an air force veteran.
It was during the pandemic that Teixeira developed a close relationship with other members of a chat room on the social media platform Discord, where members of the group have said the leaks showed up. The chat app is used by video gamers and others to connect online.
A member of the Discord chat group spoke to AP about the conversations, but declined to give his name, citing concerns for his personal safety. The group, called “Thug Shaker Central”, drew people who talked about their favourite types of guns and shared memes and jokes, some of them racist and anti-Semitic, the person said