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What Happens When Ex-Navy SEALS Go Full QAnon?

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One recalls Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing. Kelly Weill reports in the Daily Beast:

A man filmed leaving the area of an attempted pipe bomb attack on protesters in Portland, Oregon, was a former Navy SEAL who writes conspiracy theory-heavy social media posts decrying the left, Portland activists and news media recently reported.

But the man is just one of an eclectic mix of former SEALs apparently taken in by conspiracy theories online or citing those theories in violent writings. If acted on by highly trained ex-military elite, those paranoias have deadly potential.

Witnesses in Portland say two men threw three homemade explosives at protesters early on the morning of Aug. 8. Although no one was harmed and the men do not appear to have been filmed, citizen journalist Scott Keeler pursued a man spotted in the area and filmed his face. Activists and Oregon Public Broadcasting identified the man as Louis Garrick Fernbaugh, a former SEAL and CIA contractor. Fernbaugh, 52, has been named by police as a person of interest, but not charged with a crime.

Online, Fernbaugh has an extensive history of writing about conspiracy theories, particularly where they implicated the left. In this respect, he is part of a broader pattern of ex-SEALs, many of them with large digital followings, espousing conspiratorial ideas. They’re armed, suspicious, and in some cases, write in detail about potential plans to kill people they view as evildoers.

In particular, some ex-SEALs are promoting belief in QAnon or related theories that falsely accuse many of President Donald Trump’s opponents of being involved in Satanic pedophilia and cannibalism.

Marc-André Argentino, an associate fellow at the Global Network on Extremism & Technology, who monitors the QAnon conspiracy theory, said that theory—which has become one of the foremost in U.S. politics—has inspired an uptick in criminal acts by believers. (The Navy did not return a request for comment.)

“The violence we’ve seen has been by people without acumen and physical training,” Argentino told The Daily Beast. “Where it could get scary is with people who do have training.”

SEALs like Fernbaugh, who could not be reached for comment for this story, have extensive military training, and might be better equipped than the average person to build an explosive device or take up weapons. A grizzled ex-special operative with a graying beard, Fernbaugh has spent years dabbling in false conspiracy theories, some of them anti-Semitic and many targeting anti-fascists, who have been highly visible at Portland protests. (The Daily Beast did not review any posts in which he expressed affinity for QAnon.)

“George Soros is known to have paid ANTIFA to instigate rioting and create chaos that has caused millions in damage across numerous cities, but especially Portland, OR,” he wrote on Facebook in 2018, citing a conspiracy theory that falsely accuses a Jewish philanthropist of paying off protesters.

In the caption of a video on the same topic, Fernbaugh mused that “I’m surprised no one has slaughtered these sheep that have grown horns (ANTIFA),” and recent posts boasted of “infiltrating” groups of Portland anti-fascists during ongoing racial justice protests.

Fernbaugh appears to wear the same jacket in one of the videos as the man identified as him did in the footage from the aftermath of the Portland attack. He currently works selling shooting targets, including one made to look like a person dressed as a Portland anti-fascist.

Multiple people who know Fernbaugh, including a former colleague, told OPB that he was the man featured in Keeler’s video from near the scene of the explosive devices. A former law enforcement official told the publication that, based on the voice of the man in the video, they were comfortable enough in his identity that they were calling the FBI.

Meanwhile, the larger online conspiracy community is sprawling—the top QAnon groups on Facebook, alone, count more than 3 million combined members, according to a . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2020 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Guns, Terrorism

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