In 1995, Director Bryan Singer brought the gritty, twisted, and intelligently devised film The Usual Suspects to the screen, introducing us to the elusive character “Keyser Soze”. Throughout the film, the plot continuously reinforces Soze’s status and identity as legendary, mythical and ruthless. He was portrayed as a villain to some, feared and respected, to others a principled archetypal hero, and to some a made up boogeyman. In the end, with the “reveal” we learn his identity, only to watch Soze fade into the shadows once again. It is a complete dramatic Hollywood style ending. Soze becomes legend, a ghost, but most importantly, he became a great idea.
Today, social media has its own Keyser Soze. He’s not the ruthless brutal murderer from the movie, but the anonymous ghost, feared adversary, and avenger that Soze represented. He is called a criminal by those he targets, a vigilante by some of his peers, has a plethora of imitators, and hundreds of individuals who seem hell-bent on revealing who he really is. One thing is certain; the impact he has made online. His followers and friends who support him number in the tens of thousands and if ever asked who he is to them, many would use the term “inspiration” and “patriot” in their descriptions. Through his anonymity, he typifies the idea of Keyser Soze.
Five years ago, a very real man began a specific mission of taking down and disrupting Jihadist websites. According to his own bio, he is a former soldier from a very specialized U.S. military unit, who served in and around the battle theater of Afghanistan. Using his talent for coding he created a custom-made DOS tool called XerXeS (I don’t understand coding, so for info links on it and all references see links below story). He began ruthlessly pursuing, disrupting, as well as collecting Intel on various Jihadist sites.
Then, on December 19, 2009 describing himself as a Hacktivist for good, “The Jester” on Twitter was born. With his identity not known, nor his persona recognizable, (though I suspect his deep inner circle knows better) he began using the social media site to announce his actions and reasons for his mission. I found an interesting article from January 2010 written by Richard Stiennon that includes one of Jester’s first tweets as well as biographical information provided by Jester himself via email:
Terrorist are utilizing internet technologies to recruit, propagate, and co-ordinate. I exist in shadow to disrupt their online activity.
That was the beginning of Jester’s exploits into the bowels of the internet. Over the next five years he would claim victory or TANGO DOWN over the jihadists online, but they weren’t his only targets. Some other notable characters and groups drawing the interest and ire of this man were as follows:
- Julian Assange of Wiki leaks,
- Westboro Baptist Church (This one is my personal favorite!)
- Edward Snowden
- Anonymous, LulzSec, Occupy Wall Street also garnered disruption and DOXING
In return, some of these groups retaliated against him as well. Attempted identity reveals, alleged criminal activity, and DDOS attacks on his Blog. Then there are the TROLLS, who I am sure he has lost count of. If you have followed Jester on Twitter, you’ll recognize the video below he often posts after warning some of these individuals he is on to them:
— JΞSTΞR ✪ ACTUAL™ (@th3j35t3r) March 5, 2013
So, now we get to my part in this story. To begin, let me start by stating this is NOT AN EXPOSE, so to those out there wishing to get some tidbit of info on his identity…Good luck with that! Though there has been five years of articles and questions…such as: Why does he do it? Why do so many follow him, imitate him (notice the name on Twitter is JΞSTΞR ✪ ACTUAL™), hate him and troll him? Who is he? Will he ever be identified? This is not an autobiography. I wont be going into detail regarding Jester. I can only answer one question of my own, and ask one question: Who I see him as, and What’s with this countdown to his 10,000th tweet? But I digress…
I started following Jester on Twitter shortly after BlogCon 2013 in Dallas. I’d over heard a conversation mentioning his name so I asked who he was? The reply was simple: ‘One of the good guys‘. So over the last year or so I’d reply to, or re-tweet what he would place on his timeline. Ultimately he started following me as well. I became one of his 1337 “Tweeps” whom he follows (more on that later). It wasn’t until the horrifying beheading of James Foley that I directly involved myself in Jester’s particular mission of stopping the jihad propaganda machine. (I wrote about it back in August and the link to the story is provided below.) Since then, I have been an active friend and have enjoyed seeing his conversations pop up on my timeline.
So my question…who do I see him as?
Well not as an archetypal hero though some consider him one. It’s more that I see him as a normal person who does unconventional archetypal heroic acts. He does have a skill set that is perfectly honed to this and I appreciate his intelligence. However, I also see him as flawed like all of us which makes him relate-able, fun and sometimes frustrating. If he’s anything like me, there may be crude jokes, possible vices like drinking, smoking, swearing like a sailor (or Marine), the occasional hubris that ultimately will rub people the wrong way. Hey, he has done a lot of things to be touted as pretty cool. I can be arrogant occasionally, and really, who doesn’t act like that sometimes? I don’t want the people I surround myself with to be boring, but I’m not into hero-worship. We all can do great things, and we all can make mistakes in the process. One thing I will admit is I love his tastes in music. They mirror my own as a former 80’s rocker chick. One of his favorite bands to post videos from, AC/DC (Jester would say he “suffers from or prefers the term OC/DC….it’s similar, but it ROCKS!”) gets my attention on a regular basis. Lastly I see him as a patriot. He started his Jester persona as a way to combat terrorism on his terms. He supports America’s military and her allies without compromise. Posting their triumphs often accompanied by the military tribute video Thunder Struck, (yes by AC/DC) on his timeline.
I don’t know who he is. I joked one time with him that he was a reincarnation of Billy the Kid. Considering he has his location on twitter in Lincoln County, I thought it appropriate. After all, William Bonney is buried in Lincoln County, New Mexico (my home state). I do know that to this day, there is only one known video of him out there…and it was done for a most honorable reason: An Ice Bucket Challenge that Jester did for one of his twitter fans. His words:
“Yes it occured. I broke rank & did the #ALSIceBucketChallenge to raise awareness/money for the ALS Assoc.”
Notice who he nominated to do it next…
— JΞSTΞR ✪ ACTUAL™ (@th3j35t3r) August 24, 2014
*I am sure Julian and Eddie have just been too busy begging for asylum to respond.
So, as I mentioned earlier, I’m one of 1337 followers that Jester has chosen to follow. He may block one from that list, but always seems to add one to keep the same number. (I think I figured out the reason why; Leet-Speak or 1337 is an alternative alphabet for the English language on the internet used by “Elite” hackers. i.e: Jesters handle is th3j35t3r.) Let’s say mystery solved on that one.
So what’s this countdown to his 10,000th tweet and does it have anything to do with the five-year anniversary coming up on December 19, 2014? That’s my question and the reason for the story. Speculation is running a little wild, and some have concluded that Jester is going to retire. I wouldn’t blame him if he did. From my own personal experience during the ISIS Media Black out, in order to alert, flag, and block the videos showing the beheading of James Foley, I had to first watch them. Seeing over and over the depravity, and evil of that act was sickening. I can’t imagine what J has seen over five years hiding in the dark web. What does that do to a person? Even one who is trained and dedicated to their mission? Also, how do you live a life of absolute anonymity? Better question…How do you have a life under that constraint? I can’t answer that.
So, to conclude, I think the answer will be known on December 20th, 2014. What ever he decides I wish him well. He may still be around and tweeting or maybe he’ll announce a new endeavor is coming up. Maybe he decides retirement is what he wants an disappears once his “mission” is completed. Who knows, 30 some odd year’s from now an old man will take to what ever media outlet technology has to offer, and tells a journalist “I was Jester” like in the movie Young Guns II.
Or maybe…on the 20th we will look to our news-feed……..
Stay Tuned, Stay Frosty!
Jesters Court Blog (all the info on LulzSec, Wikileaks, Assange, Snowden, Anonymous, Occupy, ISIS and the trolls are all in here.)
* I do not claim to own any videos in this story. Also, some information was left out due to redundancy, and/or verification of authenticity.