Jun 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

FBI warns Congress that QAnon conspiracy theorists could become more violent

Crowds gather outside the U.S. Capitol for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 with a Q sign
Crowds gather outside the U.S. Capitol for the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 with a Q sign. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

A new FBI report warns that QAnon conspiracy theorists could transition from being "digital soldiers" to committing real-world violence in the aftermath of the Jan. 6th attack, CNN reported Monday.

The state of play: The report suggests that this change is propelled by a belief among some fervent QAnon followers that "they can no longer trust 'the plan'" and they will take action instead of waiting for instructions "which have not occurred."

  • Other followers may "disengage" from the conspiracy theory as QAnon is deplatformed from mainstream sites or from the failure of QAnon promises to materialize.
  • However, other followers seek to radicalize and initiate new members on more niche social media sites, the report notes.
  • The QAnon movement began in a sprawling online network that analyzed cryptic messages in online forums by an anonymous figure “Q,," and its followers believe in dark and untrue conspiracies.

The big picture: The FBI describes QAnon as a "constantly evolving conspiracy theory" propelled by a "decentralized online community."

  • More than 20 QAnon followers have been arrested after participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, per the report.
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