National Security

FBI warns lawmakers of violence from QAnon conspiracy theorists

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The FBI is warning lawmakers that QAnon conspiracy theorists may commit more acts of violence as the country grapples with the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Some of the conspiracy theory’s followers believe they “can no longer ‘trust the plan'” established by the group’s standard-bearer, referred to as “Q,” which is why they are changing their strategies, according to an unclassified FBI threat assessment on QAnon sent to lawmakers last week.

The report says, however, that the failure of QAnon predictions to materialize has not led people to give up on the conspiracy theory. Instead, there is a belief that individuals must take stronger control of the movement’s direction than before.

This notion, according to the report, may lead the conspiracy’s followers to attempt 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.”

Other adherents, however, will likely “disengage from the movement or reduce their involvement in the wake of the administration change,” the report added.

“Even before the horrific January 6th insurrection, QAnon supporters spread disinformation that amplified hatred and violence and threatened our democratic institutions,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said in a statement on Monday. “This assessment raises awareness for our government and the general public to the evolving threat posed by domestic violent extremists’ adherence to QAnon’s dangerous principles and further shows the urgent need for an independent January 6th commission.”

The threat assessment, titled “Adherence to QAnon Conspiracy Theory by Some Domestic Violent Extremists,” was provided to Congress following a request from Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

Earlier this year, Heinrich said the FBI gave lawmakers a version of the document in February, but it was marked “for official use only.”

“The Constitution protects the advocacy of all kinds of beliefs and views — even those that philosophically embrace violent tactics. But the public deserves to know how the government assesses the threat to our country from those who would act violently on such beliefs,” Heinrich said Monday.

The declassified version of the analysis was first reported by CNN.

The Hill has reached out to the FBI for further comment.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, who was then-President-elect Biden’s nominee for director of national intelligence, vowed in January to produce a public assessment of threats posed by proponents of QAnon if confirmed by the Senate.

The pledge was in response to a question from Heinrich after he spearheaded a letter, signed by a dozen other Senate Democrats, asking the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to provide Congress with a written assessment of QAnon threats.

—Updated at 8:12 p.m.

Tags Avril Haines Charles Schumer Joe Biden Martin Heinrich QAnon
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