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Foreign terrorist organizations could target Pride month events: FBI, DHS

foreign-terrorist-organizations-could-target-pride-month-events:-fbi,-dhs

Foreign terrorist organizations could target Pride month events: FBI, DHS

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — Foreign terrorist organizations may seek to exploit “LGBTQIA+-related events and venues,” including events during 2024 Pride month — celebrated in June, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned in a recent public service announcement.

“Organizations like ISIS may seek to exploit increased gatherings associated with the upcoming June 2024 Pride Month,” according to the announcement, which the agencies issued last week. The announcement added that the threat is “compounded” by the “current heightened threat environment” in the United States.

The threats could come online, in person or in the mail, according to the FBI and DHS.

Last February, ISIS “called for followers to conduct attacks on unidentified soft targets, although the attacks and targets were not specific to LGBTQIA+ venues,” the agencies wrote in the public service announcement.

Nearly eight years ago, ISIS applauded the June 12, 2016, shooting at Pulse nightclub — when a gunman killed 49 and wounded 53 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

“After the Pulse shooting, pro-ISIS messaging praised this attack as one of the high-profile attacks in Western countries, and FTO supporters celebrated it,” the FBI and DHS wrote in the announcement.

While there’s no evidence that ISIS directed or had prior knowledge of the attack, the shooter called 911 after the shooting began to pledge his allegiance to ISIS.

Javed Ali, the former senior counterterrorism director on the National Security Council, said members of the LGBTQ+ community have long been the target of terrorist groups.

“LGBQTIA+ members have drawn the ire of al-Qaida and ISIS supporters in the past based on their perceived lifestyles and beliefs,” Ali, who is now an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, told ABC News. “However, the degree to which this announcement was driven by specific and credible intelligence about attacks here against this community, versus a more general abundance of caution based on Pride month, remains unclear.”

Probing security measures at events, photography of security and unusual questioning about event security are all telltale signs that an attack might be planned, the FBI warned.

Last year, experts warned to cancel Pride events because of the threats they received. No major events were cancelled, however.

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement to ABC News that Pride events “bring communities together” and that safety remains a priority for all LGBTQ gatherings.

“A fringe few extremists, domestically and overseas, are irrationally threatened by the rising tide of acceptance for LGBTQ people,” Ellis said. “It is important to keep Prides safe for all attendees, and for people to keep showing up during Pride and throughout the year to speak up for the equality and safety of their communities and all marginalized people.”

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