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US intel report warns of more violence by QAnon followers

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A new federal intelligence report warns that adherents of QAnon, the conspiracy theory embraced by some in the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, could target Democrats and other political opponents for more violence as the movement’s false prophecies don’t come true.

Many QAnon followers believe former President Donald Trump was fighting enemies within the so-called “deep state” to expose a cabal of Satan-worshipping cannibals operating a child sex trafficking ring. Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden disillusioned some believers in “The Storm,” a supposed reckoning in which Trump’s enemies would be tried and executed. Some adherents have now pivoted to believing Trump is the “shadow president” or Biden’s victory was an illusion.

The report was compiled by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and released Monday by Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat. It predicts that while some QAnon adherents will pull back, others “likely will begin to believe they can no longer ‘trust the plan’ referenced in QAnon posts and that they have an obligation to change from serving as ‘digital soldiers’ towards engaging in real world violence.”

As major social media companies suspend or remove QAnon-themed accounts, many followers have moved to less well-known platforms and discussed how to radicalize new users on them, the report says.

The report says several factors will contribute to QAnon’s long-term durability, including the COVID-19 pandemic, some social media companies allowing posts about the theories, societal polarization in the U.S., and the “frequency and content of pro-QAnon statements by public individuals who feature prominently in core QAnon narratives.”

The report does not identify any of those public individuals. But Trump, who while in office praised QAnon followers as “people that love our country,” has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the election is over and spoken baselessly of his victory being “stolen,” despite multiple court rulings and a finding by his own Justice Department upholding the integrity of the election. One longtime ally told The Associated Press that Trump has given credence to a conspiracy theory that he could somehow be reinstated into the presidency in August.

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