FBI Document: Conspiracy Theories Are A New Domestic Terrorism Threat
A new document from the FBI warns that fringe conspiracy theories present a growing domestic terrorism threat, pointing to a handful of recent conspiracy theories that led to successful or attempted violence.
Yahoo News obtained a copy of the FBI intelligence bulletin from the Phoenix field office, which was dated May 30, 2019 and not previously made public.
Some of the conspiracy theories directly mentioned in the report include QAnon and Pizzagate.
“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states.
And that likelihood will increase as the nation inches closer to the 2020 presidential election, the report says.
President Trump, who has shown himself to be a fan of or susceptible to conspiracy theories, is mentioned by name in the document on one occasion. The report discusses QAnon, a conspiracy which involves the alleged government official “Q”, who “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.”
The FBI has four main categories it uses to classify domestic terrorism threats: racially motivated violent extremism, anti-government/anti-authority extremism, animal rights/environmental extremism, and abortion extremism.
It appears that conspiracy theorists would fall under the category of anti-government extremism.
While the report acknowledges that violence related to conspiracy theories is not new, the FBI says advances in technology, including social media, along with the country’s hyper-partisan political atmosphere have made the situation worse.
“The advent of the Internet and social media has enabled promoters of conspiracy theories to produce and share greater volumes of material via online platforms that larger audiences of consumers can quickly and easily access,” the document states.
That the FBI would identify conspiracy theories as a threat is interesting, considering that the Commander in Chief has been accused of spreading such theories himself, most notably regarding President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.
Trump has also frequently referenced the so-called “deep state” and offered praise of notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of InfoWars.
Nate Snyder, a Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism official under President Obama, said he agrees that conspiracy theories sometimes inspire violent acts but wondered how the Trump administration would approach addressing it.
Snyder recalled that “nearly all, if not all, the intelligence analysts focusing on domestic extremist groups” at the Department of Homeland Security were done away with by the Trump administration.
“There is no one there doing this,” he said.