QAnon’s ’spooky’ JFK gathering in Dallas leaves extremism expert ‘shocked’
QAnon supporters (Shutterstock)

QAnon has grown "new life" since the Capitol insurrection, according to one expert on extremist groups.

Ben Collins, who covers disinformation, extremism and the Internet for NBC News, appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday night to discuss a QAnon gathering in Dallas on Tuesday, where believers expected John F. Kennedy Jr. to return from the dead and become former president Donald Trump's vice president.

"I was shocked about this frankly," Collins said. "There is this one subset (of QAnon), this extremely religious subset that has made Donald Trump basically a messiah in this space, and JFK Jr. as his ostensible running mate when he comes back to life. It's extremely religious, but they do firmly believe this stuff."

Collins said many of those who showed up at Dealey Plaza came to meet "influencers" from the right-wing social media app Telegram, including the authors of fake JFK Jr. accounts who have hundreds of thousands of followers.

"It wasn't even the name-brand QAnon people that you would know maybe from the insurrection," Collins said. "It's a bunch of people who've grown a following since then. This has kind of grown its own new life since then."

Collins also agreed with host Rachel Maddow when she said the gathering appeared to mark an "escalation" because people were leaving their keyboards and physically going somewhere to demonstrate "a renewed commitment."

"First of all, once you de-platform these people from Facebook and Twitter, they go away largely ... but they are much more committed on their own spaces," Collins responded. "These people were live-streaming to each other on Telegram yesterday, and they were just reaffirming their own sort of literature. They were creating their own language and vocabulary about how to talk to each other about the religion they were creating in real time."

"The scary thing is, even the people who think they're nuts in the QAnon community, the end game is still there," he added. "The end game is still: 'Let's go murder our enemies. If we get rid of these enemies, if we get rid of Hillary Clinton, if we get rid of all these people who are killing children for their blood, then everything will be OK.' This is a tiny subset of a much larger community, and all of them believe this."

Maddow concluded by calling it a "spooky and unsettling story."

Watch below.

Ben Collins on QAnon JFK gathering