In an internal FBI document obtained by Yahoo! News, the nation’s top law enforcement agency has, for the very first time, identified conspiracy theories as a threat in the form of domestic terrorism that could be committed at the hands of a believer of such fringe notions.
In particular, the FBI cited believers in the “QAnon” conspiracy theory as a credible threat of danger to those viewed as the political opponents of believers or of Donald Trump and the Republicans who feed their beliefs. The FBI described those beliefs as an “attempt to explain events or circumstances as the result of a group of actors working in secret to benefit themselves at the expense of others,” which are “usually at odds with official or prevailing explanations of events.”
That’s a mouthful, but it’s still an understatement.
We’ve already seen violence at the hands of conspiracy theorists: Shortly after the 2016 election, the restaurant Comet Ping Pong found itself under attack by Edgar Maddison Welch, a believer in the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, a ridiculous theory that Hillary Clinton and her campaign chair, John Podesta, were involved in a child sex trafficking ring that was conducted in the basement of the restaurant. Welch showed up with an assault rifle and began shooting, only to find that Comet Ping Pong didn’t even have a basement.
The QAnon conspiracy, promoted by anonymous users on internet forums, is almost a descendant of Pizzagate, as it also involves sex trafficking of children, but in this case, includes the theory that Donald Trump has been tracking the perpetrators for years and will soon be purging them from government — yes, these people believe Democratic lawmakers are kiddie pimps.
All of this ties in with the March report in the Washington Post that showed using data from the Anti-Defamation League that hate crimes had risen more than 225 percent in counties where Donald Trump had held a rally. While conspiracy theories are not directly tied to race, the crimes stemming from them are historically always carried out by white nationalists, who feel a kinship with Trump — and the President himself never does anything to dispel any of the theories he knows are going around.
Trump has, in fact, encouraged both white nationalism and the QAnon conspiracy by retweeting messages from accounts that promote both.
Read the FBI report here:
Featured image via screen capture
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