FBI memo warns QAnon poses potential terror threat: report

An FBI document, first reported by Yahoo News, identifies conspiracy theories as potential domestic terrorism threats, specifically identifying QAnon, a group that believes there is a "deep state" working against President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE, in the memo.

The FBI specifically points to QAnon and Pizzagate, a conspiracy theory that claims Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton trolls Trump with mock letter from JFK to Khrushchev Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision MORE and other top Democratic figures are running a child sex-trafficking ring beneath a pizza shop in Washington, D.C., as examples of groups whose messages could lead to “violent acts.”

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“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 document, dated May 30, reads.

Acts of violence or attempts thereof have already been tied to both of the conspiracy theories.

In December 2016, a man fired a gun in the Comet Ping Pong pizza shop in D.C., claiming he was there to “self-investigate” the Pizzagate conspiracy, and an attorney for the man charged with the murder of the alleged boss of the Gambino Mafia family claimed his client, Anthony Comello, was inspired by QAnon.

The revelation of the document comes a week after FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that white supremacist violence was the motivator for the majority of domestic terrorism cases the bureau has investigated in fiscal 2019.

The same month the document was written, Michael C. McGarrity, the FBI’s assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division, told Congress the FBI classifies domestic terror as either racially motivated, anti-government/anti-authority, environmental extremism, or abortion extremism, which he said encompasses both pro- and anti-abortion rights advocates.

The memo states that the new category for conspiracy theories is closely related to anti-government extremism but distinct from racially motivated violence.

The new extremism category focuses specifically on views 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,” according to the document.