Who Is QAnon?

On 28th October 2017, a thread appeared on the website 4chan entitled “Calm before the Storm” The thread contained what were described as “crumbs”, or information drops, leading to potentially explosive revelations

The author of this thread went by the name “Q Clearance Patriot”, and claimed to be a high-ranking member of the US government Q alleged that in their position they witnessed a power struggle between Donald Trump and the “Deep State” Since October 2017, Q has amassed a sizeable following, leading to protests, harassment of journalists and terrorist acts

But who exactly is the person behind the leaks? Who is QAnon? Q is, by their very nature, anonymous and there is no consensus as to who is the shadowy person behind the moniker On 6th August, 2018, Buzzfeed suggested that QAnon is little more than a prank on pro-Trump supporters Two days later, a Daily Dot article claimed that a member of Cicada 3301 was responsible for QAnon The Cicada 3301 member, who only identified themselves as Thomas, said QAnon started as a Live Action Role Playing game Yet, according to “Thomas”, as the posts became more popular, the name was hijacked and now Q is a genuine alt-right supporter fuelling the movement

In January 2018, another Cicada 3301 member called “Defango” claimed in a Youtube video to be behind QAnon The two groups share similarities Both Cicada 3301 and QAnon drip feed cryptic clues for followers to piece together and interpret However, Cicada 3301 traditionally posted clues relating to art, literature and history They rarely strayed into political commentary

Furthermore, Defango later denied any involvement in the QAnon movement An alternative proposal by Nina Jankowicz, a global fellow at the Kennan Institute, is that QAnon is a Russian disinformation campaign Jankowicz argues that the narratives pushed by QAnon are oddly similar to those endorsed by the Kremlin Jankowicz says, “One of the Kremlin’s favorite tactics is to inspire confusion and doubt to sow distrust in government Qanon certainly does that… Amplifying the conspiracy theory also makes it look like it has more supporters, distracting from more substantive issues in the online discourse

” In February 2019, Twitter identified and removed 418 Russian accounts that were aggressively pushing the QAnon narrative The epicentre of the QAnon movement was the now defunct Reddit thread “/r/Greatawakening”, where supporters of Q gathered to exchange ideas A survey by Vox of “/r/Greatawakening” users found they were predominantly male Trump supporters who share an interest in video games, cryptocurrency and conspiracies Believers in QAnon continue to hunt for Q’s true identity The name itself can provide clues

Q clearance is the highest level of security clearance for the US Department of Energy If Q Clearance Patriot has the access their name suggests, that would place them in the upper echelons of government In November 2017, QAnon posted a series of pictures suggesting they were on a plane

Within moments, members of the /pol/ forum on 4chan had matched the land masses in the photos to islands in the South China Sea The pictures were posted at the exact time Trump was supposedly flying over the same body of water, from China to Vietnam To supporters of QAnon, this was concrete evidence that Q, whoever they were, had close proximity to the President “r/greatawakening” routinely associated Dan Scavino, Trump’s social media director, with QAnon Redditors point to changes in Trump’s tweets as evidence

For example, until the 5th August 2018, Trump dismissed the Mueller investigation as “13 Angry Democrats” However, after that date, Trump changed it to “17 Angry Democrats” Supporters believe this is a coded reference to the identity of Q, as the letter Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet In addition to this, on 29th January 2018, an anonymous commenter on 4chan asked Q to prove themselves by inserting the phrase “tip-top” into a Trump speech On 2nd April, Trump referred to the White House, stating, “

and we keep it in tip-top shape We call it sometimes tippy-top shape” This evidence leads conspiracy theorist Dr Michael Salla to believe Trump is in league with QAnon

On 21st February, Trump held a town hall on gun safety at the White House During the meeting, his notes were unusually turned towards the camera Point five was “I hear you” A few hours after the conference, QAnon released a coded post referring to five security tests, and attached a picture of Trump’s notes Exopolitics says that the repetition of the number five, together with the message “I hear you”, was a sign that Trump acknowledges the QAnon movement

Not all of QAnon’s clues are genuine In July 2018, Q drop number 1675 featured a photo allegedly taken on board Air Force One However, the picture was merely a cropped and rotated photo of the presidential plane from the Obama era Trump himself is a known technophobe, who once professed to refusing to use email in favour of faxes This would imply that Trump is unlikely to be a frequent visitor to a forum like 4chan

Others are implicated in the QAnon conspiracy as well In January 2018, “spiritual consultant” Nikki Colombo claimed that a man called Thomas Drake was Q Drake is a military veteran and former NSA man who turned whistleblower in 2005 when he released unclassified NSA information to a reporter from The Baltimore Sun Colombo claims that “[Q’s information has] been on target every time and the motives are good ol’ truth and justice” With his intelligence contacts and experience, Drake would be ideally placed to leak information in a manner that would prevent attention turning to him

But Drake, or at least a Twitter account claiming to be him, denies all of this Political commentator Jerome Corsi claims that in 2015, he was approached by a group of high ranking military officers They confided that Trump was hired by US military intelligence to run for office

The intention was to use him to purge the government of corrupt, Deep State officials Corsi, who himself has been accused of being QAnon, claims Q represents the same group of senior military officers who are exposing Deep State operatives He says these officials are embedded across multiple levels of power, and have a history of treasonous actions against the United States However, the person behind QAnon is arguably not as important as the movement they have inspired On 15th June 2018, Matthew Wright, a Marine Corp veteran, drove an armoured truck onto the Hoover Dam and blocked traffic for an hour and a half

The slogan on the truck read “Release the OIG report” This referred to a report from the Office of Inspector General criticising the FBI for their handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation The report was released on the 14th June 2018, the day before Matthew Wright blocked the Hoover Dam Q had led their supporters to believed the OIG report would blow the lid off Washington, and expose several Deep State enemies Since the report’s release, QAnon has promoted the belief that a second OIG report exists, which contains proof that the FBI, the Justice Department and the DNC broke the law in order to prevent Trump from winning the presidency

However, QAnon followers believe the Democrats’ plot was thwarted partially because of the actions of one of their own In June and July 2016, a series of highly damaging DNC emails were released to the public by one or more hackers called “Guccifer 20” While Democrats and the Mueller investigation blame Russia for this leak, QAnon says the leak came from a low level DNC staffer who supported Bernie Sanders In the space of two and a half years, QAnon has grown from a little known poster on 4chan, to a genuine subculture within Republicanism

Despite not knowing, to any degree of certainty, exactly who Q is, people are sufficiently inspired by Q’s words to take action Yet this action is not always been seen as positive Matthew Wright faces terrorism charges for blocking the Hoover Dam As a result, media like The Washington Post call the QAnon movement dangerous All that can be said for sure is that QAnon shows little sign of slowing down

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