Sunday, August 1

FBI warns Congress about ‘digital soldiers’

Washington (CNN) — The FBI warned lawmakers that QAnon online conspiracy theorists may carry out more acts of violence as they move from serving as “digital soldiers” to acting in the real world after the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol.

The change is driven by the belief among some of the conspiracy’s most militant supporters that they ‘can no longer’ trust the plan ‘laid out by their mysterious standard-bearer, known simply as’ Q’, according to an unclassified threat assessment by the FBI on QAnon sent to lawmakers last week, which was obtained by CNN.

But the report suggests that the failure of QAnon’s predictions to materialize has not led followers to abandon the conspiracy. Instead, there is a belief that people should have greater control of the direction of movement than before.

This could lead supporters to seek to harm “perceived members of the ‘clique’ such as Democrats and other political opposition, rather than continually waiting for Q’s promised actions that have not occurred,” according to the assessment.

“Other QAnon supporters will likely disengage from the movement or reduce their participation as a result of the change in administration,” he adds.

Often described as a virtual cult, QAnon is a sprawling far-right conspiracy theory that promotes the absurd and false claim that former President Donald Trump has been locked in a battle against a shadowy cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles made up of prominent politicians. liberal Democrats and celebrities.

Members of the violent pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6 had ties to QAnon, and the conspiracy theory has made its way from online message boards to mainstream politics in recent years.

Titled “Adherence to QAnon’s Conspiracy Theory by Some Violent Domestic Extremists,” the FBI’s public threat assessment was provided at the request of New Mexico Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich, who earlier this year revealed that the FBI had provided legislators gave legislators a version of the document in February that was designated “for official use only.”

“The involvement of some violent domestic extremists (DVEs) who also identify themselves as QAnon adherents in the violent siege of the US Capitol on January 6 underscores how the current environment is likely to continue acting as a catalyst for some to begin to accept the legitimacy of the violent action, ”reads the unclassified FBI assessment obtained by CNN.

“The FBI has arrested more than 20 self-identified QAnon supporters who participated in the violent trespassing of the Capitol on January 6. These people were charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct in a restricted building and obstruction of an official procedure, according to court documents and press reports based on court documents, public statements and posts on social media, ”it reads.

Heinrich, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, requested a threat assessment on QAnon in December, a month before the January 6 uprising. They received a response from the FBI in February, Heinrich said during the global threats hearing earlier this spring before asking FBI Director Christopher Wray why he “can’t or won’t tell the American people directly about the threat.”

In April, Wray promised to provide an evaluation that could be released to the public. He also acknowledged that he remained concerned about possible violence incited by QAnon, but despite telling lawmakers that the conspiracy theory is something we “take very seriously” when linked to a criminal act, he made it clear that the office you are not investigating the movement online itself.

It was a distinction that Wray was careful to highlight while testifying before the House Intelligence Committee, where he was pressed on whether the FBI is investigating elements of QAnon and asked to explain the threat he poses given his connection to the attack on the US Capitol earlier this year.

But despite characterizing QAnon as an online “movement” that in some cases “may be an inspiration for violent attacks,” Wray reiterated that the FBI’s investigative efforts regarding the conspiracy theory have been limited to instances. where there are links to a federal crime.

“We are not investigating the theory in its own right,” Wray told the House panel.

His comments underscored the complex challenge that QAnon and other online conspiracy theories pose to the FBI as it investigates the January 6 attack and works with other federal agencies to address the threat of national extremism more broadly.

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