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Antisemitic Conspiracy Theorist Who Called Pandemic a “Hoax” Dies of COVID-19

A hardline US antisemitic conspiracy theorist who advocated the “eradication of every Zionist” has died from the very illness that he dismissed as a “hoax.”

Robert David Steele, a former CIA agent who became a vocal advocate of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory, reportedly died on Sunday night after contracting COVID-19, having denied the reality of the pandemic for more than a year. As photographs of Steele connected to a ventilator circulated on the internet, he wrote in a final blog post that he had not received “the vaccination, though I did test positive for whatever they’re calling ‘COVID’ today, but the bottom line is that my lungs are not functioning.”

Steele’s death was announced on social media by his co-thinker Mark Tassi, who said: “Robert has died, and the whole thing is very suspicious.”

An article penned by Steele for a far-right website in 2019 was littered with viscerally antisemitic themes, including the claim that there was no distinction between Judaism as a faith and Zionism as a political movement. Describing the Nazi Holocaust as a “contrived myth,” Steele asserted that the “current spread of perversion and transgenderism is a direct consequence of Zionist subversion intended to dilute, weaken, and destroy America’s moral fiber.”

Elsewhere in the same piece, a glowing review of a book by the white supremacist Kevin MacDonald, Steele declared: “For me, in the here and now this book documents the heart of the Zionist agenda of subversion, and the importance of giving Jewish citizens a choice: be loyal to the Republic or go to jail.”

Calling Zionism “a cancer on humanity,” Steele added: “First, shut down Israel and restore Palestine; and second, eradicate every Zionist who refuses to be loyal to their country of citizenship and the rule of law.”

Steele was seen in public most recently at a July rally in Belfast, Maine, where he made a series of bizarre claims, among them that US military bases were “lily pads” used for the smuggling of gold and children.

“We are normalizing pedophilia and idiocy!” Steele said. “We are normalizing the destruction of the family.”

Steele died in Florida, which he had been visiting as part of his “Arise USA” tour — a three-month trek across all 50 states, during which he spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19, election fraud, and former President Donald Trump’s supposedly imminent return to office. The tour had run out of money, but Steele was continuing to show up to events on his own, Vice magazine reported.

Steele was accompanied on the tour by Richard Mack, a former police sheriff who heads an organization calling itself the “Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association” (CSPOA), whose goal is to radicalize US law enforcement officers with antisemitic and racist ideas alongside conspiracy theories.