- Yahoo News obtained an FBI intelligence bulletin stating conspiracy groups could pose a domestic terror threat
- The bulletin listed QAnon, Pizzagate, and other conspiracy groups as being part of their focus
- While Alex Jones, several conspiracies in the assessment are know to come from him and his platform InfoWars
A recently released document from May shows the Federal Bureau of Investigation considers some members of QAnon and other conspiracy groups to be a possible domestic terrorism threat. The document dated May 30, also makes mention of other conspiracy groups such as “Pizzagate” and the “New World Order.”
FBI Intelligence Bulletin
The FBI intelligence bulletin from the bureau’s Phoenix field office was released by Yahoo News on Thursday. The document states the FBI does recognizes people have their constitutional rights to believe whatever ideologies they desire, but also recognize that conspiracy groups could push extremists to violent acts. The FBI states in some cases these conspiracy theories are “very likely [to] encourage the targeting of specific people, places, and organizations, thereby increasing the likelihood of violence of against these targets.” It goes on to state that some conspiracy theories can occasionally drive “both groups and individuals extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts.”
One key assumption driving these assessments is that certain conspiracy theory narratives support or legitimize violent actions. The FBI also assumes some, but not all individuals or domestic extremists who hold such beliefs will act on them. The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts. Indicators that may lead to revised judgments or cause a change in the confidence level associated with this assessment include a lack of conspiracy theory-driven criminal or violent activity in the near to long term or significant efforts by major social media companies and websites to remove, regulate, or counter potentially harmful conspirational content.Federal Bureau Of Investigation
Events Based Off Conspiracy Theories
The FBI says their assessment is at least partly based off events that can be linked directly to conspiracy theories and lists several incidents where extremists had plotted against government agencies. The document names a California man who had materials for making bombs. According to law enforcement, the man planned on traveling to Springfield, Illinois to blow up a satanic temple monument at the Illinois Capitol rotunda with the end goal of making “Americans aware of ‘Pizzagate and the New World Order (NWO), who were dismantling society.”
The FBI mention Robert Bowers, who killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bowers social media postings showed a reposting of a cartoon depicting the “Zionist Occupation Government conspiracy theory.” The cartoon stated the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society “likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
Michael Mancil And James Dryden
The FBI goes on to mention Michael Mancil, 30, and James Dryden Jr., 22. The two men were arrested in Alaska in 2016 for drug charges and stockpiling weapons to attack the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) government-funded research facility. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the two men became angered after watching videos online related to martial law and other anti-government conspiracies. One of the men believed HAARP was being used to control the weather to prevent humans from talking to God. He also made reference to the United Nations invading America and sacrifices at a New World Order church.
In 2013, Paul Ciancia shot and killed one Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent and wounded several others at Los Angeles International Airport. Ciancia claimed TSA officers were associated with the NWO. Before the shooting Ciancia wrote a note that read, “If you want to play that game where you pretend that every American is a terrorist, you’re going to learn what a self-fulfilling prophecy is.” Ciancia added “I want to instill fear in your traitorous minds. I want it to always be in the back of your head just how easy it is to take a weapon to the beginning of your Nazi checkpoints.” In 2016, Ciancia was sentenced to life in prison after taking a plea deal to avoid the death penalty.
Veterans On Patrol
The bulletin goes on to point out several incidents where conspiracy theory “researchers” or “investigators” ended up targeting other people, businesses or groups for allegedly being a part of a conspiracy. Last year, Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer began livestreaming on the Facebook page for Veterans on Patrol after claiming their unofficial veteran group had discovered a child sex camp. In reality, countless experts stated what they had discovered was most likely a homeless camp, which Meyer claimed was a law enforcement cover-up. Due to his claims on social media, soon armed groups were “patrolling” the area and hunting for more child sex camps, which were never found. QAnon was referenced by the group and supporters accused “specific residents, businesses, and local officials of aiding or participating in child sex trafficking.” The group was also known to harass, threaten and dox those that opposed them.
Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
While neither Alex Jones or his platform InfoWars are not mentioned in specific, the FBI does mention conspiracy theories following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Jones has legal problems in civil court following his role in encouraging conspiracy theorists to push the idea that the shooting was a government hoax. Jones claimed in a sworn deposition that he went through “a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged.” In 2017 Florida resident Lucy Richards was convicted for sending death threats to Lenny Pozner, a father of a Sandy Hook victim. Richards actions were based on the conspiracy theory that Sandy Hook was a hoax.
Edgar Maddison Welch
The document lists Edgar Maddison Welch, who in 2016 went into Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington D.C. and fired off an AR-15 inside the restaurant while “investigating” the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. Comet Ping Pong is said to be the home of a Satanic child sex abuse ring run by top Democrats such as Hillary Clinton. Welch heard about the conspiracy theory online then spent three days researching it. After his three days of research, Welch decided he needed to go to the pizzeria for a confrontation. Welch tried to recruit friends to join him but failed. He drove to the pizzeria by himself and entered the restaurant armed while numerous children were present. He then looked around the pizzeria and moved furniture in hopes of finding evidence linking the restaurant to child sex sacrifices.
The document also references Vincent Vetromile, 19, Andrew Crysel, 18, and Brian Colaneri, 20 were arrested in 2015 with 23 guns and three IEDs. The four men were planning an attack on Islamberg, New York after right-wing media outlets and commentators claimed the tiny town of about 200 was conducting Jihadist training to blow up New York. While the document again does not list Jones or his outlets, in 2015 Jones sent a pair of staffers to Islamberg to “look into reports that the area is a staging ground for Jihadist training.” Not mentioned in the FBI document is Robert Doggart, a Tennessee man sentenced to 20 years in jail for plotting to burn Islamberg down.
Conspiracies And Domestic Terrorism
While conspiracy theories are nothing new, the Internet and social media being used as a way to spread them are still fairly new. Social media has given impressionable people the ability to not only find conspiracy theories but also communities of people that will support their beliefs no matter how ridiculous they may be. Based on the potential reach, the chances of an impressionable mind open to the idea of committing violence from one of these conspiracy theories is higher than ever. The FBI says this is the first document of its kind. According to the FBI’s assistant director Michael McGarrity, the bureau “classifies domestic terrorism threats into four main categories: racially motivated violent extremism, anti-government/anti-authority extremism, animal rights/environmental extremism, and abortion extremism.”
The addition of conspiracy theory groups falls under the category of anti-government extremism. “This is the first FBI product examining the threat from conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists and provides a baseline for future intelligence products,” the document reads. Referencing academic research, the FBI states that “conspiracy beliefs are not only prevalent and influential in domestic extremist circles and among those with extreme political views, but often serve to magnify and exacerbate existing extremist sentiments.” The FBI is expecting anti-government, identity-based and fringe political theories to “emerge, spread, and evolve” not just over time, but in a more immediate setting, during the 2020 presidential election.
While no politicians are named, the FBI notes that a factor driving the intensity of these conspiracies are the “uncovering of real conspiracies or cover-ups involving illegal, harmful, or unconstitutional activities by government officials or leading political figures.” A perfect example would be the current situation with Jeffrey Epstein, which has led many conspiracy theorists to deem anybody that ever came into contact with him as guilty of being involved in human trafficking. While it is highly likely Epstein’s charges can tie some powerful people to his crimes, it seems very unlikely to go as far as some conspiracy groups have suggested.
QAnon Was Named In Specific In The Assessment
The conspiracy theories referenced in the intelligence briefing have been placed into the categories anti-government, identity-based, and fringe political since they “assert secretive, malevolent acts either by as allegedly hostile and tyrannical federal government, by racial, religious, or social minority groups, or by political opponents.”
- NWO: A group of international elites controls governments, industry, and media organizations, instigates major wars, carries out secret staged events, and manipulates economies with the goal of establishing global rule.
- UN: The UN is being used by an evil global cabal to erode American sovereignty, strip away individual liberties, and bring foreign troops to American soil in order to replace democracy with global tyranny.
- False Flags: The official story surrounding a given terrorist attack or mass shooting is a lie; the event was staged or conducted by the government to justify encroachments on civil liberties.
- Zionist Occupied Government: Jewish agents secretly control the governments of Western states and are conspiring to achieve world domination.
- Islamberg: The small Muslim community near Hancock, New York known as Islamberg is a terrorist training camp; its residents, who pose as peaceful Muslims, are in fact Islamic radicals operating as a terrorist sleeper cell.
- Pizzagate: High ranking democratic officials are or were involved in a child sex trafficking ring centered at the Comet Ping Pong pizza restaurant in Washington, DC.
- QAnon: An anonymous government official known as “Q” posts classified information online to reveal a covert effort, led by President Trump, to dismantle a conspiracy involving “deep state” actors and global elites allegedly engaged in an international child sex trafficking ring.