A small town became the epicenter of the QAnon storm. It’s about fighting back.


In response, dozens arrived in Bodegrafen in the spring of 2021 to express their condolences to the children they believed had been killed. A message left on the children’s grave reads: “I lay these flowers in honor of Jost Knevel (Hero of Heroes!) and other victims of satanic abuse.” They signed their message with the hashtag #StopVanDissel.

“I was really angry,” says Ida Bromberg, describing how she felt after visitors left a teddy bear ornament on her father’s grave.

The Bodegraven plot sent ripples across the country. After his home address was leaked to the Red Pill Journal, a cat website, Van Dyssel was forced to work a full-day patrol. In October 2021, a man suspected of plotting to assassinate the Prime Minister was taken down by Telegram after he posted to the Red Pill Journal-linked Telegram group De Batafse République.

In May, the municipality of Bodegra tried to take legal action to stop the plots engulfing the town. The mayor at the time, Christian van der Kamp, worried that the attention the city was receiving could lead to violence. “Last year in Arnhem, a man was beaten to death during a so-called ‘pedo hunt,'” he told a Dutch newspaper. A.DHe added that he did not want a repeat in Bodegraan.

Kat He was arrested in July 2021 in Northern Ireland, where he lives, and was eventually extradited to the Netherlands last year. Knevel, who is based in Spain, was convicted of inciting riots in August 2021 and sentenced to 15 months in prison in June 2022. Rathgever was sentenced to 18 months in prison in June 2022 after posting a video of him yelling “baby killer” at Van Diesel while riding a bicycle. Two Telegram channels with a total of 13,000 members were forced to shut down by police. And in September 2022, the municipality took Twitter to court in an attempt to force the platform to remove all traces of the Bodegraven conspiracy.

In Bodegraan, local residents credit the municipality’s proactive response with getting life back to normal here. “It’s over for me,” Bromberg said, adding that she can’t help but think about what happened to those responsible now. The townspeople say the same. “It’s like it never happened,” said Manon von Agmond, pushing a pram along the highway. Another resident, Remko Zwan, said the whole thing was a funny story he now tells his friends. “I think everybody’s gone,” said Stephanie, who has lived in the city for two years but declined to share her last name.

The cloud of intrigue over Bodegraven may have dissipated, but not everyone is convinced that this episode is over for the Netherlands. “QAnon is vague and broad and general,” says Daniel de Zeeuw, who likens QAnon to the extreme of conspiracy fiction, especially for adapting to different countries. In the Netherlands, he finds affinity with new-age, alternative subcultures that may label QAnon as food and security. “It’s like a meme,” he added. “It’s a template that people can use and adapt to their own needs or their local context.”


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