A leaked FBI document, first reported by Yahoo News, reveals the intelligence agency is listing multiple conspiracy theories as potential domestic terrorism threats, specifically identifying QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that claims there is a secret plot by an alleged “deep state” against U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters.
The FBI also highlighted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory that claims Hillary Clinton and other top Democratic figures are running a child sex-trafficking ring beneath a pizza shop in Washington, D.C., as another example of groups whose messages could lead to “violent acts.”
“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, dated May 30, reads.
There have already been examples of violence or attempts thereof tied to both of the conspiracy theories.
In December 2016, a man fired a gun in the Comet Ping Pong pizza shop in D.C., claiming he was there to “self-investigate” the Pizzagate conspiracy.
An attorney for a man charged with the murder of the alleged boss of the Gambino Mafia family claimed his client, Anthony Comello, was inspired by QAnon.
The leaked document comes a week after FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that white supremacist violence was the motivator for the majority of domestic terrorism cases the bureau has investigated in fiscal 2019.
The Hill reports:
The same month the document was written, Michael C. McGarrity, the FBI’s assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division, told Congress the FBI classifies domestic terror as either racially motivated, anti-government/anti-authority, environmental extremism, or abortion extremism, which he said encompasses both pro- and anti-abortion rights advocates.
The memo states that the new category for conspiracy theories is closely related to anti-government extremism but distinct from racially motivated violence.
The new extremism category focuses specifically on views that “attempt to explain events or circumstances as the result of a group of actors working in secret to benefit themselves at the expense of others” and are “usually at odds with official or prevailing explanations of events,” according to the document.