Austrian intelligence thwarts alleged terrorist attack at pride parade

A view of the 2023 pride parade in Vienna, Austria.
(Image credit: Alex Halada / AFP via Getty Images)

Austria's intelligence agency said Sunday that it had thwarted a potential terrorist attack at a pride parade in Vienna.

Three suspects, aged 14, 17, and 20, were arrested by Austrian police on suspicion of planning an attack on the parade, which took place in the country's capital city on Saturday and attracted an estimated 300,000 people. This makes it one of the largest pride events in Europe.

Omar Haijawi-Pirchner, Austria's head of domestic intelligence, said that law enforcement "managed to defuse the moment of danger for Vienna Pride and to ensure the safety of all participants," per Reuters.

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While Haijawi-Pirchner did not provide details on the trio's alleged plan, the Financial Times reported that the suspects had sought to attack parade participants using "air guns, sabers and axes that were seized by police, as well as possibly using a car to drive into the crowd." The suspects had also reportedly made attempts to try and obtain more lethal weapons.

Haijawi-Pirchner said that Austrian law enforcement had been monitoring the group for a while and arrested them after they allegedly took "preparatory actions" for the attack. The three suspects were Austrians of Bosnian and Chechen heritage, and were ISIS sympathizers, Haijawi-Pirchner said. Officials believe the trio was likely radicalized online.

While Islamic terrorism has slowed in the European Union in recent years, "counterterrorism officials across the continent have warned of a resurgence," the Times noted. Europol reported that six Islamic terrorist attacks were "completed, failed, or foiled" in Europe in 2022, a decrease from 13 in 2020. Despite this, "the number of annual arrests of suspected jihadi terrorists by European police agencies has remained constant," the Times reported, hovering around 260 every year.

Officials have continued to caution the re-emergence of faith-based terrorism in Europe, especially at large gatherings like a pride parade.

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.