FBI Report Categorizes Conspiracy-Driven Extremists As Domestic Terrorism Threat

The seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hangs on a wall before a news conference at the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Former FBI Director James Comey was "insubordinate" in handling the probe into Hillary Clinton, damaging the bureau and the Justice Department's image of impartiality even though he wasn't motivated by politics, the department's watchdog said today. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Federal Bureau of Investigations is unprecedently categorizing “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” as a growing domestic threat and attributes individuals who are investigating conspiracies such as Pizzagate to violence.

In a report published May 30, the bureau’s Phoenix office warns of arrests attributed to violent incidents prompted by conspiracy-theory based allegations.  

QAnon, an anonymous underground network that claims Democrats and Hollywood celebrities are colluding and conspiring behind closed doors to sabotage President Donald Trump and remove him from office, is specifically referenced in the report.

The document, which was obtained by Yahoo News, also mentions Pizzagate, widespread allegations that surfaced during the 2016 presidential election claiming Hillary Clinton, her associates are members of a global Satanic network that operate an international pedophile ring.

Trump is mentioned by name in the document which states 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.”

“The FBI asses 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 of violent acts,” the document states.

The bureau also warns “conspiracy theory-driven extremists” will become more active as the 2020 presidential election nears.  

FBI Conspiracy Theory Redacted by Kelli R. Grant on Scribd

The updated memorandum comes as the bureau faces pressure by Congress to detail how it classifies extremist and prosecutes domestic terrorists.

Senate Democrats ripped FBI Director Christopher Wray last week, claiming the bureau is not aggressively addressing violence by white supremacists.

“The term ‘white supremacist,’ ‘white nationalist’ is not included in your statement to the committee when you talk about threats to America,” Sen. Richard Durbin argued. “There is a reference to racism, which I think probably was meant to include that, but nothing more specific.”

Wray told lawmakers the FBI no longer draws a distinction between black identity extremists and white supremacists, but targets “racially motivated” violence.

“I will say that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence,” he said.

The bureau classifies domestic terrorism threats into four main categories, the FBI’s assistant director of the counter-terrorism division told Congress last May.

The categories include, “racially motivated violent extremism, anti-government/anti-authority extremism, animal rights/environmental extremism, and abortion extremism,” at term which includes pro-choice and anti-abortion extremists.

The domestic threat of conspiracy theorists are included in the anti-government extremism category. as a fifth category.

“This is the first FBI product examining the threat from conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists and provides a baseline for future intelligence products,” the document states.

 The new category focuses specifically on “on beliefs that attempt to explain events or circumstances as the result of a group of actors working together in secret to benefit themselves at the expense of other,” the memo states.

While conspiracy theory-driven violence is not new, the bureau acknowledges, advances in technology have created an environment in which conspiracy theories to become a more imminent threat.

“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.

In a statement to Yahoo News, the FBI also said it can “never initiate an investigation based solely on First Amendment-protected activity. As with all of our investigations, the FBI can never monitor a website or a social media platform without probable cause.”

Conspiracy theory-driven violence is cited in the report. One example detail the arrest of a California man who was apprehended in December 2018 after being found in possession of bomb-making materials. 

The man stated that he planned to travel to Springfield, Illinois and blow up a ‘satanic temple monument’ in order to “make Americans aware of Pizzagate” and the “New World Order.”

The report also references Edgar Maddison Welch, who law enforcement say was inspired by Pizzagate theories to fire an assault weapon inside Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C. pizzeria where he reportedly believe trafficked children were being kept.

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