We can pretty much agree that certain parts of the world have become a scarier place due to President Trump's ad hoc military policy, but readers of Reddit's 450,000 strong /r/conspiracy forum are of the opinion that the fight is coming much closer to home Wednesday.
Referred to under the label "4/26"—tomorrow's date—contributors have assembled a number of supposed facts and conjectures that they believe amount to evidence that the US is in imminent danger of a nuclear strike from North Korea. All of this supporting information has been brought together by one user into a meta-post about 4/26 which, with well over 2,000 upvotes, is by far the hottest conspiracy on /r/conspiracy as we published this story.
The crux of this conspiracy stems from Operation Gotham Shield, an actual training exercise taking place in New York and New Jersey to test preparedness for a nuclear attack as part of FEMA's National Exercise Program. Although details of the program were made publicly available by FEMA months ago, to the conspiracysphere Gotham Shield is a potential false flag operation in which the U.S. government will attempt to pass off a genuine nuclear attack from Pyongyang as a routine exercise.
While sites like ZeroHedge and InfoWars have been happy to run with this claim—the latter especially shrieking at its audience to prepare for nuclear war—the author of the Reddit post has thrown a curveball with the suggestion that Gotham Shield is merely a distraction from a nuclear launch off the coast of California . In the post, the poetically named Fuckaduckfuckaduck writes:
"What if North Korea's nuclear test isn't their usual underground test? What if it's a "test' of their newly unveiled submarine based ballistic missiles... from a sub off the coast of the U.S.?"
By way of supporting information he provides an extensive list of historical explosions, earthquakes, airplane crashes and scientific discoveries that also happened on April 26 (although the logic of why this would influence North Korean military planning is left to the reader to decide), washed down with a series of references to tinfoil favorite Operation Jade Helm, which Alex Jones "revealed" as President Obama's secret plan to impose martial law and steal all the guns in Texas.
But the original post also hedges on the likelihood of the events actually taking place, a sentiment the author echoed in a Facebook chat with Motherboard, writing:
"I do not think anything will happen tomorrow. But I think this stuff is important to know and be aware of. It is all part of a bigger plan methinks. These people at the top play chess, not checkers."
FEMA, for its part, has called all of this a load of nonsense, telling Motherboard in a lengthy emailed statement:
"We've been planning Gotham Shield 2017 for about a year.
FEMA plans and conducts exercises with other federal agencies and states throughout the year, on a variety of natural & manmade disasters (to include hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.)
The Gotham Shield 2017 exercise is a four-day functional exercise focused on interagency and multi-state coordination during an Improvised Nuclear Device detonation in northern New Jersey. [...]
This forum will expand the ability to coordinate at a local and national level, further developing relationships that will support more effective response and recovery operations during a nuclear incident."
It's unlikely to be a satisfactory answer for the denizens of /r/conspiracy and the wider Alex Jones echo chamber, but with less than seven hours to midnight, the truth about 4/26 will be known soon enough.