FBI and DHS Warn of ISIS-Style Attacks During Upcoming Pride Month

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a joint public service announcement last week warning that foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) may be plotting violent attacks on “LGBTQIA+-related events and venues” during Pride Month in June.

In the announcement, entitled Foreign Terrorist Organizations and their Supporters Likely Heighten Threat Environment during 2024 Pride Month, the FBI and DHS suggest that FTOs like ISIS and other radical groups could “exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month” to carry out anti-LGBT attacks.

“FTO efforts to commit or inspire violence against holiday celebrations, including Pride celebrations or LGBTQIA+-related venues, are compounded by the current heightened threat environment in the United States and other Western countries,” the report states. “FTOs and their supporters have previously promoted anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and targeted LGBTQIA+ related events or venues for attacks.”

The report cites multiple examples of “ISIS messaging” calling for followers to “conduct attacks on unidentified soft targets” potentially tied to the growth of the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as the June 2023 arrest of three would-be ISIS terrorists who targeted a pride parade in Austria.

The FBI and DHS also note that June 12 will mark the eighth anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 and injured 53.

The FBI and DHS also note that June 12 will mark the eighth anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 and injured 53.

Subsequent investigation into that incident conclusively proved that the ISIS-sympathizing shooter, 29-year-old Afghan-American Omar Mateen, was motivated by hatred for US anti-terrorism policies, not the club’s LGBTQ clientele. However, ISIS members around the world celebrated the attack as a blow against the West, and the American media has established it as an example of an “undeniably a homophobic hate crime.”

According to the law enforcement agencies, “possible indicators of potential threat activity” can include

  • Violent threats made online, in person, or via mail.
  • Unusual or prolonged testing or probing of security measures at events or venues.
  • Photography of security related equipment, personnel, or access points consistent with pre-operational surveillance without a reasonable alternative explanation.
  • Unusual surveillance or interest in buildings, gatherings, or events.
  • Attempts to gain access to restricted areas, bypass security, or impersonate law enforcement officials.
  • Observation of or questions about facility security measures, including barriers, restricted areas, cameras, and intrusion detection systems without a reasonable alternative explanation.
  • Eliciting information from facility personnel regarding the nature of upcoming events, crowd sizes, busiest times of day, etc. without a reasonable alternative explanation.
  • Attempts to enter a restricted area, bypass security, or impersonate law enforcement officials.

The announcement did not include specific details about possible threats or name any group aside from ISIS, nor did it indicate that any particular event or location is being threatened. Nevertheless, New York City, which hosts the largest annual pride parade in the world, is taking additional precautionary steps ahead of next month’s festivities.

“We will do what we always do, which is work with law enforcement and our private security to make sure this is as safe as possible,” NYC Pride executive director Sandra Perez told NBC News.

Target, for example, will not be carrying pride-themed merchandise in many of its 2,000 stores following a backlash against its “tuck-friendly” bathing suits last year.

At the same time, major corporations are taking a different approach to Pride Month in an attempt to head off controversy. Target, for example, will not be carrying pride-themed merchandise in many of its 2,000 stores following a backlash against its “tuck-friendly” bathing suits last year.

When Target removed the Pride Month product displays in response to customer outcry, pro-LGBT groups condemned the company, and activists allegedly submitted anonymous threats against multiple stores demanding that the displays be rebuilt.