The FBI has warned lawmakers in Washington that QAnon followers may move from being “digital soldiers” to engaging in “real world violence.”
The warning is contained in an unclassified threat assessment sent to lawmakers last week and obtained by VICE News.
The FBI believes that while the inauguration of President Joe Biden and the disappearance of the leader of QAnon will see some adherents leave the movement, others will decide to take things into their own hands.
“We assess that some [domestic violent extremist] adherents of QAnon 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—including harming perceived members of the “cabal” such as Democrats and other political opposition—instead of continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred,” the assessment says.
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that broadly believes that former president Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a group of Democratic and Hollywood elite who are running a child sex trafficking ring. It has always claimed it is a non-violent movement, but as the FBI report points out, there have been several incidents of QAnon believers committing acts of violence.
QAnon played a central role in the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the FBI said this “underscores how the current environment likely will continue to act as a catalyst for some to begin accepting the legitimacy of violent action.”
The agency says it has arrested more than 20 self-identified QAnon adherents who participated in the Jan. 6 attack.
The FBI had worked with Congress to produce the unclassified report in recent months, after a leaked memo had shown the FBI viewed QAnon as a potential terrorist threat last year.