QAnon conspiracy leader returns

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

The figure, known only as Q, posted for the first time in over a year on Friday on 8kun, the anonymous message board where the account last appeared. – Shall we play again? a message read in typical cryptic account style. The account that posted the message had a unique ID that was used in previous Q messages.

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

QAnon conspiracy theory appeared at the end of 2017 from anonymous message boards, where he was quickly liked by a large number of Trump supporters. Q has published a series of cryptic posts about the overthrow of an elite “cabal” of sex traffickers. Followers believed that Q had a role in the Trump administration or in the military and that Mr. Trump was working to arrest and prosecute child abusers and Democrats.

The movement seemed to culminate in January. 6 attack on the Capitol. Some of the people who stormed the building were wearing QAnon T-shirts or were holding signs saying “Q sent me”. A survey at the time showed that one in five Americans believed conspiracy theories.

When President Biden was sworn into office, it seemed obvious that none of the most fantastic and terrible predictions of K. Trump, arresting and trying Democrats in a series of military tribunals and public executions, would become a reality. The Q account stopped posting shortly after Mr. Trump’s defeat in 2020.

While the QAnon community has been limping for months since Q’s disappearance, it seemed to go berserk again last week with a series of groundbreaking Supreme Court rulings that culminated on Friday in a ruling that ended the constitutional right to abortion. For followers of QAnon, the decision was a turning point for the country that could turn Q’s predictions into reality.

“Using social and cultural instability has been a hallmark of QAnon for a very long time,” said Bond Benton, assistant professor at Montclair State University, who studied QAnon. “It adds fuel to the fire and heightens 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 like this.”

The account went public for the third time, writing, “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 30-year-old programmer and former 8kun administrator who is widely believed to be behind Q. An HBO documentary linked him to the account, and two forensics revealed empirical similarities in their writing style.

mr. Watkins is in a long-term race for a congressional seat in Arizona’s second district. Strategists in the state expect him to lose the race when the primary is held in August. 2 after collecting a little money and providing awkward speech at a debate it failed to garner Republican support.

mr. Watkins denied any involvement with Q. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

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

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