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As horrific scenes of Afghans bleeding in the streets of Kabul shock the world, and Afghan women cower in fear of their fate under Taliban rule, QAnon followers have convinced themselves that the swift takeover of the country is a hoax designed by President Joe Biden as a distraction from the imminent release of the election audit report in Arizona.
The latest baseless conspiracy theory has been percolating in QAnon world since the Taliban rolled into Kabul as U.S. forces retreated on Sunday. But it exploded on QAnon channels on platforms like Telegram and Gab after it was boosted by Ron Watkins, the former administrator of 8kun, the website that facilitated the rise of QAnon.
“The ongoing failure in Afghanistan is just the beginning of a planned distraction campaign so they can ignore the Maricopa County audit results,” Watkins told his 400,000 followers on Telegram on Tuesday. “All eyes on Maricopa County!”
Watkins’ post has been viewed 360,000 times and has received 3,000 comments, almost all of them agreeing with him.
Watkins is among the leading proponents of baseless conspiracy theories about widespread electoral fraud in Maricopa County, and has helped push the narrative that the sham recount report—due to be handed to the State Senate on Friday—will somehow trigger a domino effect of audits in other states, and ultimately lead to the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump.
And so, for the past few months, Watkins and other QAnon believers—who see the audit in Maricopa County as the only thing that matters—have labeled every single major national and international incident a “false flag.”
And as with every other QAnon conspiracy, believers have been seeing “evidence” everywhere.
For example, in the widely-shared footage of the U.S. military plane leaving Kabul airport surrounded by Afghans on the runway, QAnon influencers noted that the number on the plane was 1109. When flipped around, it becomes “911”—though, of course, that’s only accurate if you conveniently ignore the 0.
Others claimed that the video was a complete fake and dismissed credible reports of bodies falling from the plane after it took off to be “fake news” because they have not seen the bodies.
Some QAnon believers took it even further, claiming that Biden was coordinating the takeover of Afghanistan with the Taliban in order to distract from the audit results.
“Wait until everyone realizes that the Biden administration conspired to reinstall the Taliban government in Afghanistan,” one Telegram user wrote. “Notice how easy it was to take over the country. Does it seem a little staged? The US literally handed over the country & all the U.S. assets. Why? The Biden administration is anxious to re-establish the trafficking network. Also, why were Biden and Psaki both on “vacation” when all this happened?”
While Watkins and other QAnon believers didn’t go as far as some far-right figures who celebrated the takeover of Afghanistan, they did agree with the Taliban when its representatives accused Facebook of censoring them.
“America has lost all moral authority to speak on freedom of speech due to a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires suppressing the voices of millions,” a Telegram user called KanekoaTheGreat, who has 120,000 subscribers, wrote in a post shared by Watkins.
When former President Donald Trump issued a statement about the Taliban takeover, using the phrase “fall of Kabul” many big QAnon influencers claimed it was a thinly-veiled reference to “Fall of the Cabal” a video that has become a foundational text for QAnon believers.
QAnon believers are so convinced that the entire world revolves around them that they are willing to claim every single major global event is somehow connected to their belief that Trump is waging a secret war against the “deep state” to unmask a group of elite trafficking children around the world.
The devastating explosion in Beirut that killed hundreds last year? A cover-up designed to protect Hillary Clinton. The container ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal earlier this year and disrupting the entire global supply chain? Also a cover-up to protect those trafficking children. A series of tragic suicides among police officers who attended the Capitol riots? A cover-up. And QAnon’s obsession with the Maricopa County audit will continue until the report is released.
The Arizona Senate’s audit liaison office told VICE News Tuesday that the final report from Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company with no election audit experience running the recount, will be presented to Senate President Karen Fann on Friday. Fann did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment about how long it will take for the Senate to review the document before making it public.