FBI Warns QAnon ‘Digital Soldiers’ May Become More Violent Offline

The FBI has warned lawmakers that online QAnon conspiracy theorists may carry out more acts of violence as they move from serving as “digital soldiers” to taking action in the real world following the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. Frequently described as a “virtual cult”, QAnon is a sprawling far-right conspiracy theory that promotes the absurd and false claim Donald Trump has been locked in a battle against a shadowy cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles made up of prominent Democratic politicians and liberal celebrities.

According to an unclassified FBI threat assessment on QAnon sent to lawmakers last week, the shift is fueled by a belief among some of the conspiracy’s more militant followers that they “can no longer ‘trust the plan” set forth by its mysterious leader known simply as “Q,” (revealed to actually be a guy who lives on a pig farm in the Philippines, a fact QAnons conveniently overlook along with any other real facts).

Members of the violent pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6th had ties to QAnon, and the conspiracy theory has made its way from online message boards into the political mainstream in recent years. But the report also suggests the failure of QAnon predictions to materialize has not led to followers abandoning the conspiracy. Instead, there’s a belief that individuals need to take greater control of the direction of the movement than before. This might lead followers to seek to harm “perceived members of the ‘cabal’ such as Democrats and other political opposition, instead of continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred,” according to the assessment.

The FBI has arrested more than 20 self-identified QAnon adherents who participated in the attack on the Capitol. Those individuals were charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in a restricted building and obstruction of an official proceeding, according to court documents and press reporting based on court documentation, public statements, and social media posts.

Check out CNN’s coverage of the rising QAnon threat by clicking through the tweet below.

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