Pope Francis was target of arrested 15-year-old’s IS-inspired attack
Vatican City: US
authorities arrested a 15-year-old last month for allegedly plotting an Islamic
State-inspired attack that targeted Pope Francis, according to ABC News.
Pope Francis is
scheduled to visit the US from September 22-27 for the first time, in a tour
culminating with an outdoor mass in Philadelphia after stops in Washington and
The US Department of
Homeland Security and the FBI disclosed the unidentified 15-year-old’s arrest
in a joint intelligence bulletin on August 14, without mentioning that the pope
was the target.
“The minor was inspired
by ISIL and sought to conduct a detailed homeland attack which included
multiple attackers, firearms and multiple explosives, targeting a foreign
dignitary at a high-profile event.
“The minor obtained
explosives instructions and further disseminated these instructions through
social media,” it said. ABC News cited unnamed sources as saying the “foreign
dignitary” referred to in the statement was Pope Francis, and that the boy was
arrested near Philadelphia.
ISIL is an alternate
acronym for the Islamic State, the extremist group also known as ISIS which is
engaged in atrocity-filled campaigns to establish a “Caliphate” in Syria and
The papal visit poses
enormous security challenges for US authorities tasked with protecting a
religious leader known for his popular touch and love of crowds.
In Philadelphia, two
million people are expected to turn out for an open air Sunday mass outside the
Philadelphia Museum of Art, at the close of an event billed by the Vatican as a
World Meeting of Families.
chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said Sunday that US
authorities had broken up a threat against the Pope, but gave no details.
“We’re monitoring very
closely threats against the Pope as he comes into the United States. We have
disrupted one particular case,” McCaul told ABC’s This Week show.
The joint FBI-Homeland
Security statement cited the case of the 15-year-old as an example of how “some
youth are vulnerable to messaging from ISIL”. But ABC said its sources had said
the boy did not pose an imminent threat, his plans were “aspirational”, and
there were questions about his mental health.
Nevertheless, he was
charged with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign
terrorist organisation, namely ISIS, the government said.