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Citigroup Tech Executive Unmasked as Major QAnon ‘High Priest’

QAnon’s biggest news hub was run by a senior vice president at Citigroup, the American multinational investment bank and financial services company Citigroup. Jason Gelinas worked in the company’s technology department, where he led an AI project and oversaw a team of software developers, according to Bloomberg. [Alternate URL] He was married with kids and had a comfortable house in a New Jersey suburb. According to those who know him, Gelinas was a pleasant guy who was into normal stuff: Game of Thrones, recreational soccer, and so on. Things did get weird, though, when politics came up…

The movement had been contained mostly to the internet’s trollish fringes until around the time Gelinas came along. In 2018, while doing his job at Citi, he created, as an anonymous side project, a website dedicated to bringing QAnon to a wider audience — soccer moms, white-collar workers, and other “normies,” as he boasted. By mid-2020, the site was drawing 10 million visitors each month, according to the traffic-tracking firm SimilarWeb, and was credited by researchers with playing a key role in what might be the most unlikely political story in a year full of unlikely political stories: A Citigroup executive helped turn an obscure and incoherent cult into an incoherent cult with mainstream political implications…

The need to spread the word beyond core users led to the creation of aggregator sites, which would scrape the Q drops and repost them in friendlier environs after determining authenticity. (The ability to post as Q has repeatedly been compromised, and some posts have had to be culled from the canon.) This task, Gelinas once told a friend, could be his calling from God…. His intention, as he later explained on Patreon, the crowdfunding website widely used by musicians, podcasters, and other artists, was to make memes, which are harder to police than tweets or Facebook text posts. “Memes are awesome,” Gelinas wrote. “They also bypass big tech censorship.” (Social media companies are, at least in theory, opposed to disinformation, and QAnon posts sometimes get removed. On Oct. 6, Facebook banned QAnon-affiliated groups and pages from the service….) The site wasn’t just a repository of QAnon posts; Gelinas served as an active co-author in the movement’s growing mythology… Gelinas claimed he was the No. 2 figure in the movement, behind only Q, according to a friend, and began to dream about turning his QAnon hobby into his main gig…

By now, his site’s growth had attracted an enemy. Frederick Brennan, a 26-year-old polymath with a rare bone disease, had decided to unmask him. Brennan was a reformed troll. He’d created 8chan, but he had a change of heart after the man responsible for the 2019 mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, posted his manifesto on the forum in advance and inscribed 8chan memes on the weapons he used to kill 56 people… He referred to Gelinas’s site in a tweet as “the main vector for Q radicalization.”

Days after Gelinas was outed as the man running the site, Citigroup “had put him on administrative leave and his name was removed from the company’s internal directory. He was later terminated.”