7 Mar 2012

A love of guns, chemistry and Assange: LulzSec unmasked

Following the arrests of six alleged members of the LulzSec internet hacker collective, Channel 4 News scours their social media profiles and finds a love of weapons, chemistry and Julian Assange.


On Tuesday, two Britons, two Irish and two Americans were accused of major computer hacking plots.

Scotland Yard and the FBI simultaneously launched separate court proceedings against alleged members of LulzSec, which claimed responsibility for online attacks against numerous websites, including the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), FBI, CIA, US Senate among others.

The men were arrested seven months after 18-year-old Jake Davis, or “Topiary” as he is known online, who is also accused of being a member of the group, was arrested in Shetland.

The others were 28-year-old New Yorker Hector Xavier Monsegur, the leader of the group, Jeremy Hammond, 27, from Chicago, Ryan Ackroyd, 25, from Doncaster, an unnamed 17-year -old from south London, Darren Martyn, 25, from Galway and Donncha O’Cearrbhail, 19, from County Offaly.

It has since emerged that Monsegur, who used the alias “Sabu”, had assisted the FBI in its operations in exchange for avoiding a jail term and being allowed to continue looking after his two children.

Anonymous: help us pay hacker suspect's fees
Donncha O'Cearrbhail (Facebook)

O’Cearrbhail, who is alleged to use the online name “palladium,” was arrested in Dublin after being named in a New York court, but was later released without charge.

Police in Ireland said he had been freed on Wednesday morning while a file on the case was being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The medicinal chemistry student at the prestigious Trinity College in Dublin, had been questioned on suspicion of membership of Anonymous and LulzSec.

He was also suspected of hacking into a police officer’s personal email account, accessing a conference call conducted by Irish security forces and the FBI about the activities of Anonymous, before posting it on YouTube in February.

On his various social media profiles, he describes himself as an “information security enthusiast,” and frequently posted links to stories about hacker idol and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking confidential US documents to him.

He also exhibits a keen interest in Stratfor, the global intelligence agency which has had thousands of sensitive emails accessed and stolen by Anonymous and the Occupy movement.

He was often highly critical of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper, which was attacked by hackers in July last year.

O’Cearbhaill, who last year came third in the Irish Computer Programming Olympiad, recently posted the famous Martin Luther King Jnr quote: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

Darren Martyn

Fellow Irishman Martyn, a biopharmaceutical chemistry student at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), brags about being an internet “pirate,” on his Facebook page, and has uploaded pictures of websites – including Mastercard, Visa, and the US Senate – after they had been temporarily shut down with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which flood websites with traffic to make them crash.

Such cyber attacks have become a hallmark of LulzSec and Anonymous.

Perhaps more worryingly, Martyn appears to have a fascination with firearms, explosives, pyrotechnics and live ammunition. On his Facebook account, Martyn posts instructions on how to make a detonator.

He is charged with two counts of computer hacking conspiracy, each carrying a maximum sentence of ten years.


Hammond, 27, was a member of a group called AntiSec, an offshoot of Anonymous, that allegedly hacked into the computers of a Texas-based Stratfor late last year, stealing thousands of credit card numbers, email addresses, passwords and phone numbers.

Some of the stolen Stratfor data was subsequently published by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing website.

Hammond, who is believed to go by the online moniker Anarchaos, has already served two years behind bars for hacking into a conservative website and stealing its computer database, including credit card information.

Solomon Saleh

The arrests mean that there is thought to be only one significant member of LulzSec who has yet to be tracked down.

Solomon Saleh, a former computer science student at the University of Westminster has been named as “Tflow”, a founding member of LulzSec.

Until last summer, Saleh, a US national, worked for London recruitment agency, Wikijobs, but disappeared at the same time that Lulzsec started its string of cyber attacks.

Last August, the Sunday Times reported that Saleh, 22, was though to be on the run having left his family home in central London shortly before police arrived looking for him.

The newspaper said that his father, Ahmed, said Solomon had travelled to Paris with the last of his student loan money

LulzSec timeline


15 May – LulzSec claims credit for hacking UK ATMs and Fox Network’s X Factor site

23 May – LulzSec leaks data from Sony Music Japan

30 May – LulzSec defaces PBS.org

2 June – Group leaks customer data from Sony Pictures

3 June – Hacks on Nintendo and InfraGard Atlanta

6 June – Sony Entertainment source code and Sony BMG hacks

9 June – LulzSec compromises National Health Services site

13 June – Data stolen from videogame maker Bethesda Software

14 June – Senate site compromised

15 June – DDoS on CIA site

16 June – Thousands of passwords dumped

20 June – DDoS on Serious Organized Crime Agency (Soca)

21 June – British police arrest 19-year-old Ryan Cleary

23 June – Arizona law enforcement sites compromised

25 June – LulzSec announces that they are quitting after 50 days

27 July – Jake Davis (aka) Topiary arrested

18 July – LulzSec deface Sun newspaper’s online site


5 March – Six arrested in UK, US and Ireland