The Daily Telegraph

Rally adds to fears Trump is forging closer Qanon links

- By David Millward US CORRESPOND­ENT

DONALD TRUMP appeared to endorse the “Qanon” conspiracy theory over the weekend after playing a piece of music associated with the movement at a campaign rally in Ohio.

During the same speech, members of the audience in Youngstown also raised their index fingers, a gesture closely associated with the conspiracy movement, which dates back to 2016.

The hand gestures at the rally and the choice of music intensifie­d fears that Mr Trump was indicating his support for the movement described by the FBI in August 2019 as a growing domestic terrorist threat.

Earlier this week Mr Trump shared online, or “retruthed”, as conspiracy believers say, a posting from “Patriots in Control” proclaimin­g “the storm is coming” illustrate­d with a photoshopp­ed image showing the former president with a Q lapel badge.

The slogan “the storm is coming” is an explicit reference to Qanon’s belief that Mr Trump will be restored to power and his opponents put on trial – and possibly executed – on live television. “Qanon figures are claiming the use of the song brings some kind of legitimacy for them,” Alex Kaplan, a senior researcher for the US media watchdog Media Matters, wrote on Twitter.

“Trump sending a clear message patriots,” a Qanon-linked account on the pro-trump social media network Truth Social wrote. “He re-truthed this for a reason.”

Qanon centres on the belief that America is controlled by a secret elite cabal of Satan-worshippin­g child abductors headed by, among others, Hillary Clinton and George Soros.

It is based on theories floated by an alleged senior anonymous official, known as Q, who has “exposed” the workings of the “deep state” in posts on far-right websites. The country, Qanon believes, can only be saved by a true patriot, like Donald Trump.

It is not the first time Mr Trump has flirted with imagery or music associated with Qanon. He has sent similar signals on his social media network Truth Social.

For instance, posts by the former president included a claim that a report would show the 2020 election was fraudulent and that he should be reinstalle­d in the White House.

During the rally, Mr Trump reiterated accusation­s that he was persecuted by the FBI and unfounded claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

“We are a nation that has weaponised its law enforcemen­t against the opposing political party like never before,” the former president said.

According to one estimate, 8 per cent of Americans – around 22 million people – believe in Qanon.

 ?? ?? Former US president Donald Trump speaks during the Save America rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, in which he played music associated with Qanon, conspiracy theorists regarded as dangerous by the FBI
Former US president Donald Trump speaks during the Save America rally at the Covelli Centre in Youngstown, Ohio, in which he played music associated with Qanon, conspiracy theorists regarded as dangerous by the FBI

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