After Edgar Welch, 28, of Salisbury, North Carolina, traveled to Washington on a mission to rescue child prisoners he believed falsely were being held by Hillary Clinton in dungeons beneath the Comet Ping Pong restaurant as part of an alleged child sex ring, a slew of media reports that focused on the origin of the so-called "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory concluded that one of the major proponents was Alex Jones, the controversial radio host who manages the political conspiracy theory website Infowars.
Welch's ill-advised mission, during which he entered the restaurant and fired shots from his assault rifle in hopes of rescuing victims of a fictitious child sex ring, was the culmination of a long, politically-motivated rumor-mongering campaign.
Besides the unsubstantiated claim that Hillary Clinton was at the center of a pedophile ring, specific conspiracy theory rumor allegations made against Clinton by Alex Jones, as documented by Right Wing Watch, included that she "personally murdered and chopped up and raped" children.
Rumors circulating on right-leaning conspiracy theory sources, such as Before It's News, also claimed that a foreign government -- believed to be Russia -- had come into possession of photographic evidence that Clinton "personally" raped a 9-year-old girl.
The rumors gained traction after FBI Director James B. Comey sent a letter to Congress, saying he was reopening investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. Comey told Congress that the FBI's decision to reopen investigation came after a new batch of Clinton emails were found on a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, a former New York congressman and the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Anonymous posts began popping up on various right-leaning forums on major social-media platforms, such as 4chan and Reddit, making unsubstantiated claims that newly released emails "point to a pedophilia ring with Clinton at the center," as the Washington Post reported.
Talk-show host Alex Jones soon picked up the rumors and became a major proponent of the allegation that Clinton was involved in a child sex ring, although it was clear that the claims originated from anonymous and unsubstantiated posts to anti-Clinton political discussion forums.
"When I think about all the children Hillary Clinton has personally murdered and chopped up and raped, I have zero fear standing up against her," Right Wing Watch reports Jones as saying in a video posted to YouTube on November 4, a few days before the general election.
But the video was taken down after Welch's visit to Comet Ping Pong restaurant raised questions about the source and origin of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
"Yeah, you heard me right. Hillary Clinton has personally murdered children. I just can't hold back the truth anymore."
Later in his tirade, Jones attempted to link the claim that Clinton had "personally murdered and chopped up and raped" children with her policy in Libya and Syria as secretary of state.
"I mean 200,000 plus dead Christians with her operation in Syria and her operation in Libya and not let the Christians get out and directing al-Qaeda and ISIS, who target and murder children and put up their sex slavery and throw Catholic priests off cliffs and kill people in mass and murder gays and everything else you can imagine because they don't like peaceful people."
But Jones' claim that Clinton had "personally raped" children only echoed rumors that had been making the rounds on right-leaning conspiracy theory blogs since June of 2016 that a foreign Intelligence agency had come into possession of photos showing Hillary Clinton raping a 9-year-old girl.
Several YouTube videos from the political conspiracy theory section of YouTube claimed that a foreign intelligence agency has offered to give a blogger identified as Stew Webb a photo to post to his blog that showed Clinton raping a child. But Webb refused the offer, allegedly out of fear that Clinton would put him on her "kill list."