A rapidly-growing disinformation network is attempting to position itself as a leading online movement by appealing to devotees of QAnon, the far-right cult.
“Sabmyk” actively targets the group’s followers as conspiracy theorists wrestle to define QAnon’s future. It hopes to attract devotees of the conspiracy through social media accounts, many of which borrow from the QAnon terminology.
While some of these accounts were created on prominent sites, namely Facebook and Twitter, it is the messaging app Telegram where the network is experiencing most success.
Newsweek has tracked more than 100 Sabmyk channels since December 21, 2020—the made-up birthdate of “Sabmyk,” a messianic figure which is supposedly tied to the Bible’s Noah and the Atlantean sword of Shahnawaz.
The channels, on which harmful conspiracy theories are posted, have amassed a combined 1 million subscribers since then.
Channels named WWG1WGA (an acronym for the QAnon rallying “where we go one, we go all”), Q Donald Trump and Q Speaking are among the largest.
What is the Sabmyk network?
Like QAnon, Sabmyk is a convoluted conspiracy theory that incorporates fantastical elements into its narrative.
At its core, the Sabmyk network promotes a messianic belief that the eponymous savior will wield a sword once owned by the “Orion Kings of Atlantis” and lead an “awakening” against an unspecified cabal of celebrities, scientists, bankers and company owners that it says are manipulating the general public.
Those behind the network also claim their messianic savior “awakened” on December 21, that it was prophesied by the Biblical figure Noah, and can be identified by specific marks on its body.
Gregory Davis, who recently profiled Sabmyk for the U.K.-based anti-racism organization Hope Not Hate, said the pseudo-religion began late last year.
He told Newsweek: “In December 2020 we start to see it [the Sabmyk network] move onto Telegram, that’s when the word Sabmyk starts to appear, who is supposedly some sort of messianic figure which is tied in with other elements such as Noah’s prophecy and the mythical “sword of Shahnawaz.”
“But aside from the following of these channels, there has been, until January and February of this year, no evidence of this existing as anything other than the writings of a single person or organization on the internet. It is not something that has any backstory or history to it apart from the things that have been forged by this personal group.”
How Sabmyk targets QAnon followers
The network’s strategy to grow is clear. It does so by appealing to QAnon believers, many of whom took to Telegram following moves by Facebook and other social media giants to ban disinformation.
Messages promoting mask skepticism, anti-vaccination conspiracies and the false assertion the recent 2020 Presidential Election was stolen from Donald Trump are shared between channels in order to attract QAnon and other far-right followers.
Attempts to connect Sabmyk to former President Trump, a central figure in the QAnon conspiracy, have been made, including a clip that splices together Trump saying the word “17,” and a doctored image showing him with a Sabmyk pamphlet in his suit pocket. All were shared across dozens of Sabmyk accounts.
“It seems to be quite a calculated effort to seed this narrative into the QAnon community,” Davis said. “Some of the channels are named after QAnon, others reference UFOs or chemtrails so they are working in other conspiracy theories that are not necessarily related to QAnon.”
There are a huge range of channels, Davis said, that “share identical content” and sometimes more targeted messaging.
“There are two levels of deception to it,” he added. “The names of the channels, the branding and the one or two unique posts that each one shares are tailored towards the outer identity stamping of the channel.
“The British Patriots Party channel has posts about the Mayor of London [Sadiq Khan] and shares uploads that appear towards its supposed purpose. But, because it’s sharing from all of the other channels, the majority of which are QAnon, the overwhelming common content on the channel is of American QAnon issues.”
While the Sabmyk network originally focused more on QAnon and conservative branding and pushed content in English (and occasionally German), Newsweek has found new channels that post in Korean, Japanese and Italian.
These channels do not attempt to hide Sabmyk’s XX branding and forward existing Sabmyk content from others in an apparent attempt to build a global following.
The Anti-Defamation League has tracked conversations in QAnon groups that discuss the Sabmyk conspiracy as its remaining followers look to latch onto any apparent new sign to justify their debunked world-view.
ADL investigative researcher Amy Landiorio reports that online users have been trying to unpack the Sabmyk conspiracy in QAnon spaces.
She told Newsweek: “The idea that another conspiracy, which at its most basic is an alternative theory intended to cast doubt on reality, has made its way into QAnon circles is not surprising.”
The Sabmyk network is only one of several groups on Telegram who are peddling their ideology into QAnon-dominant pages, with several appealing to the anti-Semitic messages shared by QAnon followers.
“When QAnon adherents started to recalibrate their conspiracy in a new administration, online extremists, who are known opportunists, attempted to inject their ideological narratives into QAnon spaces,” Landiorio continued.
“White supremacists and other extremists on Telegram saw an opportunity to use disinformation and shared grievances like those displayed during the election and insurrection to make elements of their ideology palatable.”
Newsweek has contacted Telegram, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for comment.
What is Sabmyk? QAnon Followers Targeted By New Messianic Mythology Wire Services/ Newsweek.