As the 77-year-old pontiff prepares to travel to Albania on Sunday for a one-day visit, Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See said there were credible threats against the pontiff’s life.
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church could also be vulnerable when he travels to Turkey in November, the 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.
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.
“What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible,” the ambassador told La Nazione, an Italian daily, on Tuesday.
“I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or 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.” …
No extra security measures would be taken for [an upcoming] Albania trip, despite previous warnings that Albanian jihadists who had returned home from fighting in Syria or Iraq might be planning an attack.
Vatican security officials are “calm” ahead of the one-day visit, the Rev Lombardi said.