The leader of the QAnon conspiracy theory returns

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After more than a year of silence, the mysterious figure behind the QAnon conspiracy theory has resurfaced.

The character, known only as Q, posted on Friday for the first time in over a year on 8kun, the anonymous message board where the account last appeared. “Shall we play the game again?” a post in the account’s typical cryptic style. The account posted had a unique identifier used in previous Q posts.

The posts surprised disinformation researchers and signaled the ominous return of a figure whose conspiracy theories about an imaginary ring of elite sex traffickers offered support for then-President Donald J. Trump. Message boards and Telegram channels dedicated to QAnon lit up with the news as followers speculated about the meaning of Q’s return.

The QAnon conspiracy theory was created at the end of 2017 from anonymous forums, where it quickly appealed to large numbers of Trump supporters. Q released a series of cryptic messages about the downfall of an elite sex trafficking “cabal”. Supporters believed Q played a role in the Trump administration or military and that Mr. Trump worked to arrest and prosecute child molesters and Democrats.

The movement seemed to culminate in the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. Some people who stormed the building were wearing QAnon t-shirts or holding signs that read “Q sent me.” Polls at the time showed that one in five Americans believed in the conspiracy theory.

When President Biden was sworn into office, it seemed clear that none of Q’s most fantastic and gruesome predictions — about Mr. Trump’s arrest and indictment of Democrats and their trial in a series of military tribunals and public executions — would come true. Q’s account stopped being posted shortly after Mr Trump’s defeat in 2020.

While the QAnon community has limped along in the months since Q’s disappearance, over the past week it has appeared to be brimming once again with a series of landmark Supreme Court rulings, culminating on Friday with a decision ending the constitutional right to abortion. For QAnon followers, the decision signaled a turning point for the country that could make Q’s predictions a reality.

“The use of social and cultural instability has long been a hallmark of QAnon,” said Bond Benton, an associate professor at Montclair State University who has done so educated QAnon. “That adds fuel to the fire and increases people’s fear of the future.”

When an anonymous user on 8kun asked why Q was gone for so long, the account replied, “It had to be done that way.”

Posting a third time, the account wrote: “Are you ready to serve your country again? Remember your oath.”

The return comes at an important time for one of QAnon’s leading figures: Ron Watkins, a computer programmer in his 30s and former administrator of 8kun who is widely believed to be the person behind Q. An HBO documentary linked him to the account, and two forensic analyzes showed empirical similarities in her writing style.

Mr. Watkins is running a competitive bid for a seat in Congress in Arizona’s Second District. Strategists in the state expect he will lose the race when the Aug. 2 primary takes place after raising little money and entering awkward debate performance that failed to garner Republican support.

Mr Watkins has denied any involvement in Q. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Daniela Peterka-Benton, an associate professor at Montclair State University who has also studied QAnon, warned against attributing too much logic to Q’s return now, suggesting that the person’s goal is simply to “burn the world shut.” see”.

“I don’t think this person has a plan,” she said. “But I think they really enjoy that they have so much power.”

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