Remember this QAnon Shaman famously seen in the recent US Capitol violence? Well, in a recent interview with VICE News, he claimed to be “proud” of his participation in the event with no regrets. In doing so he has brought the far-right conspiracy group QAnon to the spotlight. Let us look at how the group was started, its core beliefs, and its rise in US politics.
Crux of the Matter
Viking At The Capitol
VICE News recently interviewed Jake Angeli, who is the bare-chested man with face paint, fur coat, and Viking-horns famously seen at the recent US Capitol siege and violence.
Angeli calls himself “QAnon Shaman” as per USA Today, with QAnon being among several far-right groups involved in the US Capitol incident.
I’m quite proud of my participation. I’d like to think I was an observer of history being made right in front of me.Jake Angeli, the ‘QAnon Shaman’
What Is QAnon?
- QAnon is a conspiracy theory movement pro-Trump in nature.
- Started in 2017 after an anonymous user “Q” started posting conspiracy theories on 4chan.
- 4chan is a discussion site like Reddit but with extremely less censorship – mostly used by extremists.
- Q claims to be a high-rank intelligence officer – claims to have “Q security clearance” for accessing top-secret information.
- Q’s exact identity unclear – an operating group also possible.
Core Beliefs Of QAnon
QAnon followers believe that:
- The world is run by a Satan-worshipping group of pedophiles.
- Thousands of “deep state operatives” involved with such a group.
- The group list includes Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Hollywood stars like Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.
- Donald Trump would save the world by eradicating the group.
- “The Storm” would come when the “deep state” members would be arrested and executed.
More recent beliefs include:
- Anti-Semitic views.
- Covid-19 is a hoax designed by Democrats.
- QAnon was earlier a fringe group – now open in public with estimated millions of followers.
- 2018: A QAnon follower was arrested for planning a bomb planting in Illinois to raise awareness about “Pizzagate”.
“Pizzagate” is a conspiracy theory claiming that Hillary Clinton runs a child- trafficking racket from a pizza parlour’s basement in Washington.
- Facebook data shows that QAnon membership grew by 581% amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
- FBI has termed it as a potential source of ‘domestic terrorism’ – several incidents of violence noted.
Recent Capitol siege prime example.
- Trump publicly claims that he is not much aware of QAnon except that they “love our country (US)”.
- However, he has never denounced QAnon and is widely thought of as its staunch supporter.
As per Media Matters For America (December 20)
- Trump has “amplified QAnon-promoting Twitter accounts in at least 258 instances”.
- At least 89 Republican candidates for Congress and 20 Republican state legislature candidates expressed open support for QAnon (2 and 4 of them won respectively) in 2020.
- As of November 2020, 4chan received more than 20 million unique monthly visitors, with more than 900,000 posts made daily. The site hosts boards dedicated to a wide variety of topics, from anime and manga to video games, music, literature, fitness, politics, and sports, among others.
- Trump owned the Trump Taj Mahal – a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He even called it the ‘8th Wonder of the World’. It was under Trump’s possession for 26 years before going bankrupt in 2016.
- In its most basic sense, an “anon” is an anonymous or pseudonymous Internet poster. On July 2, 2016, the anonymous poster “FBIAnon“, a self-described “high-level analyst and strategist” who claimed to have “intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Clinton case“, began posting false information about the 2016 investigation into the Clinton Foundation and claimed that Hillary Clinton would be imprisoned if Trump became president