DHS warns Americans of domestic terrorist threats to LGBTQ community

Rainbow flag burning
Rainbow flag burning in Sussex County New Jersey in 2022.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning the LGBTQ community and other groups of domestic terrorist threats after a recent uptick in violent attacks. 

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding the continued heightened threat environment across the U.S. This is the seventh NTAS Bulletin issued by the DHS since the attack on the Capitol in January 2021. 

“Our homeland continues to face a heightened threat environment — as we have seen, tragically, in recent acts of targeted violence — and is driven by violent extremists seeking to further a political or social goal, or act on a grievance,” Secretary Mayorkas said. “To keep Americans safe, DHS is committed to working with partners across every level of government, in the private sector and in local communities, by sharing information, equipping communities with training and resources and providing millions of dollars in grant funding for security enhancement and prevention.”

The growing threat of American extremism poses a “persistent and lethal threat” to the nation, says the Bulletin. “Lone offenders” or “small groups” with violent ideologies have the potential to continually target “public gatherings, faith-based institutions, the LGBTQI+ community, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.” In the coming months, DHS expects the threat environment to remain heightened and that attackers could exploit several upcoming events to justify or commit acts of violence. 

This latest Bulletin comes after a noted trend of recent attacks, plots and threats of violence to the U.S. Citizens and foreign terrorist organizations — who remain intent on attacking America — continue to maintain a visible presence online in attempts to motivate supporters to conduct acts of violence. 

After the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, CO — an LGBTQ-targeted attack, which remains under investigation — the DHS has seen known extremists on online forums praising the alleged attacker. Similarly, some domestic violence extremists in the U.S. praised an October 2022 shooting at a LGBTQ bar in Slovakia and also encouraged additional violence.

In New Jersey, recent incidents have highlighted the enduring threat to faith-based communities, particularly the Jewish community. In early November of this year, a New Jerseyan was arrested for sharing a manifesto online that threatened attacks on synagogues. The individual admitted to writing the document, in which he claimed to be motivated by the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) and hatred towards Jewish people.

Another cause the DHS cites for the domestic terrorist threats is the heightened political tension seen across the nation. 

“While violence surrounding the November midterm elections was isolated, we remain vigilant that heightened political tensions in the country could contribute to individuals mobilizing to violence based on personalized grievances,” the Bulletin says. “Perceptions of government overreach continue to drive individuals to attempt to commit violence targeting government officials and law enforcement officers. Some domestic violent extremists have expressed grievances based on perceptions that the government is overstepping its Constitutional authorities or failing to perform its duties.” 

This NTAS Bulletin will expire on May 24, 2023. Until then, the DHS and other government partners are providing continued updated information regarding threats and additional resources. For more information on how the DHS is responding and how to stay safe, CLICK HERE