Just days before his scheduled visit to the Muslim-majority nation of Albania, Pope Francis is told he may be in the crosshairs of assassins from the Islamic State. Iraq’s ambassador to the Vatican warns of “credible threats” against the life of the 77-year-old pontiff.
Word of this dire warning comes from a report in The Telegraph:
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church could also be vulnerable when he travels to Turkey in November, the [Iraqi] ambassador said.
Jihadists from ISIL have in recent weeks boasted of wanting to extend their caliphate to Rome, the heart of Western Christendom, and have talked of planting the jihadist black flag on top of St Peter’s Basilica.
[Ambassador] Habeeb Al Sadr said there were also indications of a more specific threat against Pope Francis, who recently spoke out in favour of the US and its allies halting the advance of ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
ABC News reports that the Pope will not be protected by extra security on his weekend trip to Albania, despite the threat of an assassination attempt.
The pope will use the same open-topped Jeep he uses at the Vatican during his single-day trip Sunday, a spokesman confirmed Monday.
“There is no reason to change the pope’s itinerary,” the Rev. Frederico Lombardi said in a briefing Monday, explaining that there were no specific threats or concerns. “We are obviously paying attention but there is no need for concern or a change to his program in Albania.”
According to The Telegraph, the Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican expressed fears that non-Arab Islamic terrorists could more easily get close to the pontiff in an attempt to kill him, even in Rome.
“There are members of ISIL who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians. ISIL could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe.”
Pope Francis is also scheduled to travel to Turkey, where Islam is the main religion of the population. The Pope’s trip, which will include events in Ankara and Istanbul, is expected to take place on Nov 29 and 30.
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