“Conspiracy Theories” like QAnon could fuel extremist violence, FBI warns.
The FBI has released an intelligence bulletin, describing "conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists," as a growing threat. The bureau notes in the bulletin, that this is the first time it has identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorist threat. The document also lists some arrests, connected to violent incidents motivated by unconventional beliefs.
"This is the first FBI product examining the threat from conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists and provides a baseline for future intelligence products," the document states.
This category targets beliefs that "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" and are "usually at odds with official or prevailing explanations of events."
The document mentions QAnon, a network, shrouded in mystery that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump, and Pizzagate, the theory that a pedophile ring including Clinton associates was being run out of the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. It is interesting to note, that the restaurant in question, did not actually have a basement.
QAnon is said to have originated from the conspiratorial belief that "Q," allegedly a government official, "posts classified information online to reveal a covert effort, led by President Trump, to dismantle a conspiracy involving ‘deep state' actors and global elites allegedly engaged in an international child sex trafficking ring."
The document in question was recently made public in an exclusive report by Yahoo News. The document says that the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle. It reads, "The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts."
The bureau says the threat emanating from conspiracy theories have become more intense of late due to "the uncovering of real conspiracies or cover-ups involving illegal, harmful, or unconstitutional activities by government officials or leading political figures." However, the document fails to mention which political leaders or which cover-ups it was referring to.
Yahoo News recalls that the FBI was recently criticized for not being serious enough with its fight with domestic extremism. "The term ‘white supremacist,' ‘white nationalist' is not included in your statement to the committee when you talk about threats to America," Democrat Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said recently to FBI Director Christopher Wray in a Senate Judiciary Committee. "There is a reference to racism, which I think probably was meant to include that, but nothing more specific."
Since then, the FBI has focused a bit more on domestic terrorism. In May, Michael C. McGarrity, the FBI's assistant director of the counterterrorism division, told Congress that the bureau now "classifies domestic terrorism threats into four main categories: racially motivated violent extremism, anti-government/anti-authority extremism, animal rights/environmental extremism, and abortion extremism,"
The bureau claims that technology has worsened the threat of conspiracy theories. "The advent of the Internet and social media has enabled promoters of conspiracy theories to produce and share greater volumes of material via online platforms that larger audiences of consumers can quickly and easily access," the document says.