The FBI has 850 open domestic terrorism investigations, 40% of which are cases of racially motivated violent extremism, Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity said Wednesday.

FBI Warns of Evolving Threat to the Homeland

August 1, 2019 The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in an unprecedented move recently identified conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists as a growing threat. 

An FBI bulletin distributed to law enforcement agencies specifically mentions QAnon, the right-wing shadowy network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump, and Pizzagate.

In the law enforcement bulletin dated May 31,  2019 recently obtained by Yahoo News, the FBI warns that:

“anti-government, identity based, and fringe political conspiracy theories very likely motivate some domestic extremists, wholly or in part, to engage in criminal or violent activity”.

 

QAnon — What is it?

QAnon is a shadowy right wing network that exists as a kind of parallel history in which a “deep state”took over decades ago. An all-encompassing theory of the world, it’s able to tie together and explain everything from “Pizzagate”to ISIS to the prevalence of mass shootings and the JFK assassination. 

Other examples in the report include false claims by a border militia,Veterans on Patrol in 2018, that they had discovered a child sex trafficking camp near Tucson, Arizona, and following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, “conspiracy theorists who believed the shooting was a government hoax harassed and threatened family members of the slain victims”.

The most recent example of domestic extremism included in the FBI report is the October 2018 Tree of Life synagogue massacre, which the FBI describes as being motivated by the “Zionist Occupation Government conspiracy theory”

President Trump is mentioned by name briefly in the latest FBI document, which notes that the origins of QAnon is the conspiratorial belief that “Q,” allegedly a government official, “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.”

A joint DHS/FBI bulletin distributed to law enforcement agencies across the country ahead of Fourth of July holiday warned that white supremacists and other political radicals may be plotting Independence Day attacks. The FBI is currently tracking about 850 suspected “domestic” terrorists. The agency has seen a large increase in domestic terrorism investigations involving white supremacists in the last year.

The Role of Social Media

An FBI assessment of the domestic extremist movement blamed the Internet and social media for the growing threat posed by conspiracy theory driven extremism. The assessment underscores the important role social media companies play in combating domestic extremism. If social media giants like Facebook make “significant efforts” to “remove, regulate, or counter potentially harmful conspiratorial content,” the FBI adds that this assessment could change.

Domestic Terrorism

In his testimony before Congress in May, Michael C. McGarrity, the FBI’s assistant director of the counter-terrorism division, told lawmakers the bureau now classifies domestic terrorism threats into four main categories: racially motivated violent extremism, anti-government/anti-authority extremism, animal rights/environmental extremism, and abortion extremism. Conspiracy theorists appears to fall under the broader category of anti-government extremism.

 

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