The Vengeance Behind the Mask
Marc Headley used cyberterrorists in a vendetta against members of his family and his former church—and to incite hate and crime
After Marc Headley was caught embezzling funds from the Church of Scientology and absconded, he launched a self-serving vendetta using members of Anonymous, then known as a virulent cyberterrorist collective.
“We ruin the lives of other people simply because we can,” declared an Anonymous manifesto video in 2007, commenting on the group’s purpose.
Headley was active with Anonymous as of 2008. By that time, the group was on the radar of authorities on several continents for violence, racism, terrorist threats and crimes including murder committed in its name.
Headley took on a self-styled advisory role in directing Anonymous members—“Anons”—to harass and attack Churches of Scientology, the religion’s ecclesiastical leader and members. One former Headley acquaintance reported that upon visiting Headley’s home in 2008, he learned that Headley was meeting with key figures from the group in his living room.
For the next several years, Headley egged on Anons to do his bidding from behind their Guy Fawkes masks. All the while, members of the group were arrested and convicted for malicious sprees of criminal acts, with Headley cheering them on both publicly and under the cover of pseudonyms.
By 2009, Anonymous had amassed a record of criminal activity directed at the Church, its leader and members that counted 41 death threats; 56 bomb and arson threats; 19 letters containing a simulated anthrax powder mailed to as many Churches; 103 other threats of violence; 40 incidents of vandalism, including an attempt to set fire to a Church in Los Angeles; 3.6 million harassing emails; and 141 million malicious hits against Church websites in attempts to bring them down. Anonymous encouraged its criminal crew to “read Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto” as handbooks for a “war” on Scientologists and called for “annihilation.”
Between 2008 and 2011, seven perpetrators and orchestrators of Anonymous attacks on the Church were arrested. Four were convicted and ringleaders were sentenced to prison; several were placed under restraining orders.
“…so any Anons that work at [company name], you know, get in her ear.”
In May 2008, Headley called on Anonymous members to up their harassment of the Church. During an online radio program, he encouraged them to disrupt Churches of Scientology with so-called “flash raids” because “that just totally messes with them.” He further urged Anons to repel Scientologists from entering their Churches by standing outside and hurling offensive slogans and language at them.
Tally of Anonymous hate and crime
|56||Bomb and arson threats|
|20||Letters with similated Anthrax powder|
|40||Threats of violence|
|103||Incidents of vandalism|
|3.6 MILLION||Harassing emails|
|141 MILLION||Malicious website hits|
Headley also made it personal. He urged Anonymous members to bird-dog his mother-in-law, a member of the Church, at her place of work. “My wife’s mom, her name is [name], and she works at [name of large tech company] in Los Angeles, so any Anons that work at [company], you know, get in her ear.”
Why would Headley plead for others to harass his mother-in-law when he obviously knew the locale of her job? It is the cowardly pattern he used with Anons, who he knew would readily buy his inflammatory rhetoric and could easily be incited to attack strangers from behind the obscurity of their masks.
In that same way, he used Anonymous to repeatedly harass his own sister as she worked in anonymity at a Church of Scientology in Canada.
“I came to know Marc’s involvement with this cyberterrorist group,” Stephanie Lanteigne said, “because Marc has used information that he knows about me personally which has then been spread in the streets where I was living and where I was working.
“Marc had arranged for people to have picket boards with my name specifically on them in huge letters,” she recounted. “[It was] just my normal working day, going on about my life, to come outside of my building with all these strange people that I don’t know, saying things that aren’t true…scaring me to come out to a street of a bunch of random people dressed with masks and signs and blaring them.”
Headley publicly tried to recruit others to initiate additional forms of harassment—such as that aimed at the Church’s religious retreat at sea, the motor vessel Freewinds, when it was in dry dock in its Caribbean home port in Curaçao.
“If enough people harass the company in Curaçao not to let the ship back in the water,” Headley urged, “then we can…maybe eventually just sink it.”
By “we,” Headley of course meant others he intended to incite to do his dirty work. He further inflamed Anons to harass Churches by calling designated receptions up to “a few thousand calls per day”—hoping to “shut down” at least one Church on his hit list—and cheered the Anons on with, “Oh yeah, you guys rock!”
But Headley’s most incendiary commentary was reserved for the primary target of his malice—the Church’s ecclesiastical leader, whom he named as the key individual for Anons to harass.
Headley showed up at Churches in Los Angeles with an Anonymous cohort, Donald Myers, who wielded vulgar signs and screamed profane taunts about the Church’s leader. Myers was convicted and placed under criminal restraining orders four times in 10 years.
In 2010, Myers was convicted for criminal vandalism at the Church’s facility where Headley had worked and been caught embezzling. Myers was again convicted in 2011, this time for entering a school where many Scientologists send their children, and harassing and frightening the pupils. Not surprisingly, this school was part of the private school network Headley had once attended. Myers was again convicted in 2016 after an arrest for sexual battery of a Church staff member. He was convicted yet again in 2020 after another assault on a Church member.
In 2009, Headley engaged an Anonymous member, later identified as Colby Schoolcraft of Las Vegas, on a group Internet forum. Schoolcraft showed up at the Church facility where Headley had served on staff. He then posted a message threatening to “go out and blow shit up with guns and explosives” along with an explicit warning to the Church’s leader to wear a bulletproof vest, and a graphic photoshopped image of an assassination.
On October 15, the Las Vegas Police Department Anti-Terrorist Unit arrested Schoolcraft on charges of “bomb/explosives threat” and “act of terrorism.” Police confiscated two AK-47s and several other rifles during their arrest. A court later issued a restraining order against Schoolcraft to enjoin him from coming near the Church or its leader.
In 2010, the Church received an anonymous email threatening a “vehicle-borne IED [improvised explosive device] heading towards” a Church property, specifically naming as its target the facility that Headley knew was at one time the Church leader’s living quarters. The message further threatened violence against a school known for being attended by many children of Scientologists, and which Headley had attended and written about.
Authorities traced the threat to a serviceman stationed in Virginia. The offender explicitly blamed his inflamed, criminal mindset on incendiary information from Marc Headley. The serviceman was brought before a nonjudicial military panel, where he was found guilty and discharged.
And Marc Headley remained behind his mask.