Metro Weekly

FBI Warns Terrorists May Target LGBTQ Pride Events

Law enforcement agencies urge attendees of Pride events to be aware of surroundings and report any suspicious activity.

Photo: Melinda Matlack

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have issued a public service announcement warning that foreign terrorist organizations and their supporters may seek to target LGBTQ-related events, which are plentiful as cities around the nation prepare to celebrate Pride Month in June. 

Besides the potential security vulnerabilities inherent in holding large-scale events with potentially hundreds of thousands of attendees, the law enforcement agencies warn that foreign terrorist organizations have previously promoted anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and threatened LGBTQ-related events for potential attacks.

For example, in February 2023, English-language ISIS messaging featured an article focused on anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and railed against the growth and increased visibility of the LGBTQ community. Potential terrorists or terrorist sympathizers also encouraged followers to conduct attacks on unidentified “soft” targets vulnerable to attack, although the possible targets were not specific to LGBTQ venues.

Similarly, in June 2023, three alleged ISIS sympathizers were arrested for attempting to attack a Pride parade in Vienna, Austria, using knives and a vehicle as part of the attack. 

The FBI and DHS also noted that June 12 will mark the eighth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in which a self-professed jihadist entered the club with several weapons, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others in a hail of gunfire.

Pro-ISIS messaging praised the attack as one of the high-profile attacks in Western countries, even though authorities later declared that the shooter had not specifically targeted the club due to its ties to the LGBTQ community, and was simply seeking to conduct a mass shooting to protest America’s foreign policy with respect to the Middle East.

The federal law enforcement agencies noted that possible indicators or warning signs of potential terrorist activity include:

  • Direct threats of violence, whether made online, in person, or via mail.
  • Unusual or prolonged fascination with, including questions about, security measures at events or venues.
  • Taking photography of security-related equipment, personnel, or access points to reveal potential security vulnerabilities.
  • Unusual surveillance or interest in buildings, gatherings, or events.
  • Attempts to gain access to restricted areas, bypass security, or impersonate law enforcement officials.

The FBI and DHS are warning attendees to contact local law enforcement or call 911 in the case of any emergency. To report threats, people should contact their local FBI field office or closest international office. To report suspicious activity, people can follow tips provided by DHS on how to reach out to local tip lines.

All those attending public events are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement authorities.

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