In a soon to be released interview with Homeland Security Today, the widely regarded, enormously feared, and in some cases much despised hacktivist and computer vigilante known as The Jester (or by the individuals Twitter handle @th3j35t3r) takes aim at a cybersecurity issues of consequence, the implications on America’s counterterrorism efforts, and of course the much maligned former NSA defense contractor, Edward Snowden, now in hiding in Russia, who has reportedly been charged with espionage under the 1917 Espionage Act in the US.
He is known online as The Jester, but the hacker’s true identity remains hidden. The Jester claims he is a former U.S. soldier who served in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and others claim he worked as a defense contractor doing work with US Special Operations Command. While the hacker’s identity remains unknown, his online exploits have become notorious. The Jester regularly takes Jihadist websites offline in order to disrupt the dissemination of violently anti-American activities and the coordination of terrorist activity.
In 2010, the hacker turned his attention to WikiLeaks, an online group that publishes secret and classified information, including, most famously, years of documents relating to the U.S. war in Iraq. The Jester retaliated, knocking the website offline and accusing the organization of “attempting to endanger the lives of our [US] troops.”
Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also strongly condemned WikiLeaks in 2010, saying that WikiLeaks “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier.”
#Snowden. For an example of being an actual whisteblower as opposed to being a traitor, please see the VA doctors who are coming forward.
— JΞSTΞR ACTUAL™ (@th3j35t3r) May 3, 2014
In a wide-ranging interview by Homeland Security Today, The Jester spoke directly about his complaints regarding Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, stating, “Essentially, the puppet masters [behind Snowden and Bradley Manning] are Julian Assange [WikiLeaks co-founder] and his ‘organization.’ To my mind, they represent the single biggest threat to our national security right now.”
Fundamentally, The Jester appears to take issue with the intent and overt nature of the purpose driving Snowden and WikiLeaks. “They are clearly and actively seeking to ‘recruit’ US personnel for the purpose of revealing US secrets. At the very least, this is designed to undermine the US around the world,” explains The Jester. “At worst, it’s a direct attempt to obtain and exchange with enemy nations our sensitive information — information that could feasibly put US assets downrange at risk, or give other nations a tactical advantage or insight into our operations.”
While the tactics of The Jester, who claims to be a “hacktivist for the good,” remain debatable, the impact is evident. As Anthony Kimery, executive editor of Homeland Security Today, explains, “Whether you agree or disagree with The Jester’s actions, there’s no questioning the impact he’s had on terrorist organizations’ activities online.”
“But more than that, in this lengthy interview, The Jester offers pointed and profound observations regarding the cyber-capabilities of terrorist groups and cybersecurity and offensive cyber-warfare in general.”
The Jester publicizes each successful hack on Twitter by tweeting – “TANGO DOWN” to his 56,000 followers. It will be interesting to discover if The Jester’s comments will elicit a response from Snowden as well as his handlers, and or Assange and his colluding compatriots. Will they take the road of silent admonishment for fear of a Twitter post exclaiming “TANGO DOWN” (again) or will they counter The Jester’s claims and confront the questionable quagmire of their own creation? Time will tell.