What is QAnon and how did their presence dominate at the riot on the US Capitol?

  • Video report by ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo

Prominent QAnon activists were spotted inside the US Capitol as violent riots exploded into the building, and others flew Q-themed banners inside and out.

The US President, who is viewed as a hero by the movement, has previously praised QAnon activists as "people who love our country".

If you saw any pictures from the riot it is likely to have featured the so-called "QAnon shaman", Jake Angeli, who charged into the capitol building with a fur hat and antelors mirroring bear-like behaviour.

The man has been spotted at numerous protests and rallies over the last year, often in costume, and always in support of Mr Trump.  

But what exactly is QAnon, what do they stand for and what are their links to US President Donald Trump?

  • Correspondent Robert Moore shares the latest from Washington alongside Rohit Kachroo

What is QAnon?

QAnon is an informal pro-Donald Trump internet conspiracy group, whose followers believe that the US has been ruled by "deep state" criminal organisations including Hollywood stars and Satan-worshipping global elites.

The conspiracy theory is centred on the baseless belief that the president is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the "deep state" and have attacked and harassed his political opponents on social media.

Followers of the group have also claimed that the Democratic Party are engaged in international crime rings, including sex trafficking.

For more than two years supporters have tried to solve clues and intelligence they believe is being leaked by a high-level mole in the US government named "Q".

Analysis from ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore on QAnon

Washington Correspondent Robert Moore wrote: "They believe that Q will not only ensure Trump’s survival but that he - or she - will turn the tables and destroy the Democrats and the Deep State.

"And since Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet, his followers attach special significance to that number.

"In the eyes of Q believers, his credibility was enhanced when a follower asked Q to get President Trump to say 'tip top'."

Watch ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore's report from inside the US Capitol as protesters stormed the building

What are Donald Trump's links to the far-right group?

Trump has often retweeted QAnon-promoting accounts and its followers flock to his rallies wearing clothes and hats with QAnon symbols and slogans.

QAnon's content, which started on the fringe internet, has spread widely across mainstream social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter and into the political arena.

A promo flyer featured on one of the many pro-Trump websites. Credit: thedonald.win

But the President's "support" for the QAnon group has often led to social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter banning his content.

Several Republican running for Congress this year are also QAnon-friendly.

One also got newly elected - Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has been very vocal of her support for the group.

Does QAnon pose a threat and was the riot at the US capitol the first act of violence?

The FBI issued a warning, saying "conspiracy theories like QAnon" could fuel "extremist violence" and designated the group a potential extremist threat.

The riot at the US capitol is not the first incidence where QAnon supporters were involved. In the past a supporter blocked the Hoover Dam in Arizona - armed with reportedly 900 rounds of ammunition.

Hoover Dam in Arizona Credit: AP

Matthew Wright was unhappy that Trump had not yet made the mass arrests QAnon supporters had anticipated, the Arizona Republic reported.

Police said Wright had two military-style rifles, two handguns and 900 rounds of ammunition in his vehicle, according to the Associated Press.

In 2020, Wright pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge, but a judge rejected a plea deal that would have given him less than 10 years in prison as too lenient.

Some may also argue that following Wednesday night's protest which turned into a violent riot, that the group do pose a threat.

Inside the Washington siege - Robert Moore on his report that shocked the world