WikiLeaks informant Sigurdur Thordarson, left, and LulzSec informant Hector Xavier Monsegur.
The FBI has so many moles in the hacktivist community, it seems, that at times they’ve even ended up unwittingly doing their best to get each other arrested.
For much of 2011, Icelandic then-teenager and self-described hacker Sigurdur Thordarson worked as both a WikiLeaks volunteer and an FBI informant. As Thordarson first told Wired, he claims to have given the FBI eight hard drives full of information potentially useful to the U.S. government’s ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks, which has come back into the spotlight due to the secret-spilling group’s role in helping NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seek asylum.
In an instant message conversation with Thordarson Thursday, I asked him what he might have given to the FBI that could be relevant to its investigation, and he responded immediately with a log of an instant message conversation between himself and the member of the LulzSec hacker group known as Sabu, which he says he gave to the FBI and which he claims shows “that information was passed on from LulzSec that later got published by WikiLeaks.” Thordarson told me he believes the log supports a “conspiracy” charge against Julian Assange or others in WikiLeaks.
The log is likely less useful to the FBI than Thordarson thinks: It’s no surprise that WikiLeaks has published hacked files, or even that it publishes files hacked specifically by LulzSec, such as the millions of emails stolen from the private intelligence firm Stratfor by activist Jeremy Hammond, who pleaded guilty to computer fraud and abuse last month.
More interesting, or at least more humorous, is the fact that the chat log represents a conversation between two FBI informants, both of whom seem to be trying to lure the other into providing evidence they can turn over to their law enforcement handlers–or even into a meeting that could lead to the other’s arrest. Sabu, also known as Hector Xavier Monsegur, had agreed to work as an FBI mole within LulzSec months before his conversation with Thordarson. Thordarson, for his part, tells me he thought he was helping to deliver a “notorious hacker” to the FBI, and didn’t know he was speaking to a fellow stool pigeon. Monsegur doesn’t show any signs of knowing either.
Thordarson, it should be noted, is not a reliable source, and WikiLeaks has claimed that “at no time did he have access to sourcing or publishing systems.” But while he may have tampered with the chat logs he provided me, they would be nearly impossible to wholly fabricate, and include English colloqualisms from Monsegur that would be tough for a native Icelander like Thordarson to invent.
At the beginning of this November 2011 conversation, in which Thordarson goes by the name “Dumbo12,” Monsegur offers WikiLeaks a a trove of hacked Syrian government emails, which sound like a portion of collection WikiLeaks would publish in 2012.
Sabu: how you doing my brother?
Dumbo12: all good on my and my friend
Dumbo12: on my end my friend *
Dumbo12: how’s life
Sabu: everythings good over here
Sabu: been busy
Sabu: we ended up a certain governments central mail server
Sabu: and got some fucking massive leaks coming out
Sabu: you gents sure you’re not wanting to do anymore leaks?
Dumbo12: Oh we will make more leaks
Dumbo12: we are gathering material now’a days and getting more funds to keep hosting our data servers
Dumbo12: anything else you can tell me about the comming out leaks?
Sabu: well between us. we ended up owning syrian government central mail server. my teams working on translating from arabic to english. but we are seeing crazy shit
Monsegur sends Thordarson some examples, and Thordarson responds with interest, and then asks Monsegur how WikiLeaks can help him. He responds asking for money:
Sabu: this is real shit
Dumb012: is this something WL could get there hands on and get real and good publicitiy?
Sabu : my brother. I’ll give you url of email attachments right now as a sample
Sabu : one minute
Dumbo12: another question i was asked to ask you, Are you being monitered? are you safe? do you need any assistance from us?
Sabu: nein but thanks for asking
Sabu: the only assistance I need is money so I can stop living in poverty and being the brokest hacker on earth
Then Thordarson mentions recruiting Monsegur to become a member of WikiLeaks, but insists on meeting him in person.
Dumbo12: Did J say anything about recruiting you permanately?
Sabu: well he emailed me once but we didnt get to talk
Sabu: guess hes been busy/careful or whatever
Sabu: but let him know we have intercepted 92GB of mails from .gov.sy so this can be one of the biggest leaks in history
Dumbo12: Just to point out one thing – If we are to recruit you – a meeting will have to take place we can’t be talking to a username forever
Sabu: I don’t care about that. but if you meet me you better make sure you guys are secure
Sabu: I refuse to go to jail for meeting anyone
Dumbo12: we will be secure im more worried about you
Sabu: especially me. they’re trying to get me really hard man
Sabu: I think they’re builing a real ugly case against me
Sabu: I believe in this cause and J inspired me to do what I’m doing
Sabu: but it feels like they’re trying to turn me to a martyr
Dumbo12: Believe me when i say, i personally and this organization will do everything we can to protect you from our end
Sabu: thanks brother.
Later Thordarson asks Monsegur to meet in Iceland, and Monsegur instead asks Thordarson to come to New York.
Dumbo12: Do you feel comfortable traveling to Iceland?
Dumbo12: or do you wan’t us to travel somwhere?
Sabu: unfortunately I’m a grown ass man with kids, so I don’t have the luxory of traveling the world
Sabu: but if you sneak yourself out to new york we’ll meet up at a bar on some random shit
Dumbo12: haha new york?
Sabu: haha yeah
Dumbo12: you don’t ask for little my friend
Sabu: take your time brother
Sabu: but its easy to hide in this city
Dumbo12: well worst case scenario i get stopped in NY customs – but i do not think that will happen
Sabu: I can be in NY tomorrow but i won’t go there unless your 100%
Sabu: I’m 100% but again my nigga I can’t risk going to jail now. I’ve been hiding for so long
Sabu: so be private about every fucking thing
Dumbo12: give me a date that suits you and i will try my outmost to be ther
Dumbo12: if i get stopped in the US and they realize who i am then im going to jail so i ask you the same be not private but be very private about everything
Dumbo12: and you need to know that if i travel there i will be traveling with a close protection unit
Sabu: thats fine. im from the ghetto so I got people too 🙂
Four months later, Monsegur was revealed as an FBI informant. His meeting with Thordarson at a New York bar seems to have never taken place. Which is a shame: The two had more in common than they realized.
6/28/2013 @ 3:51PM |Andy Greenberg
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