At least one possible terrorist threat against Pope Francis ahead of his visit to the United States next week has been disrupted, announced by the House Homeland Security Committee.
“We are monitoring very closely threats against the pope as he comes into the United States,” Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) told ABC’s “This Week.” “We have disrupted one particular case.”
According to Fox News, the pope will arrive in Washington, D.C. on September 22, visit the White House, and attend a parade and a public appearance on the West Front of the Capitol. He will also be speaking before a joint committee of the House and Senate. His six-day trip will include traveling to New York on September 25, where he is scheduled to speak at the United Nations, participate in a parade through Central Park and say Mass at Madison Square Garden; and to Philadelphia, where his visits include one to the Independence Mall.
The most demanding aspect of the job for officials in charge of the pope’s security will be contending with his desire to stay in public spaces. As reported by the Washington Post, the security officials must consider the pontiff’s preference of being in the open to those who want to see him. Pope Francis has used partially or fully open-air Popemobiles, instead of bulletproof vehicles that were preferred after John Paul II’s assassination in 1981, when driving through masses of people.
“I’m concerned,” McCaul said. “[Pope Francis] is a very passionate man. He likes to get out with the people. And with that comes a large security risk… But as that date approaches, I think we’re all very vigilant to protect him as he comes into the United States.”
However, it has not yet been determined whether the “disrupted” case was a threat against Pope Francis or a reference to the arrest of a man allegedly involved in planning an attack at a September 11 memorial in Kansas City.
In January, terror threats regarding attacks by Islamic State groups had emerged. However, they were dismissed by the Vatican’s press office. A couple of months later, Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican City’s police force, said “the threat exists,” and that “we know of no plan for an attack against the Vatican or the Holy Father.”
As reported by New York Post, law enforcement sources said that Pope Francis’ destinations will be secured in the “highest security setting.”
“He’ll probably have even more people than the president because he’s going on an extended tour,” one law enforcement source said. “We will sweep every tree and bush and frisk every squirrel.”
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