ISIS threat to Vatican real, but no sign of attack plans

The head of Vatican security says ISIS militants have threatened the Vatican, but there is no sign of any planned attack.

The commander of the Vatican gendarmes, Domenico Giani, said security patrols of the Vatican perimeter are always on high guard.

“There are not only the threats of the Islamic State, but also the risk of action by individuals, which is more dangerous because it is unpredictable,” he said in an interview for the monthly magazine of the Italian state police.

For months, there have been rumours of threats against the Vatican or Pope Francis by ISIS militants.

Concern heightened last month when militants claiming to be allied with ISIS murdered 21 Christians in Libya.

In a video, the militants said they would conquer Rome.

Mr Giani, who is the Pope’s bodyguard, said that based on what he has learned from meetings with his Italian and foreign colleagues, he can say that the ISIS threat is real.

But he hasn’t been told of any information about actual attack plans, he said.

Mr Giani, who worked in the Italian secret service before moving to the Vatican, said he is in frequent contact with Italian and other government intelligence services, including some from predominantly Muslim countries.

“I can say that today the Pontiff is seen and respected by Muslims as the most influential moral authority in the world — and that is on the part of both religious and civil leaders.”

Asked how Pope Francis is living with the threat, Mr Giani responded: “The Holy Father does not intend to abandon the style of his pontificate, which is based on proximity, that is, on a direct encounter with the greatest number of people possible.

“Even as Pontiff, he has remained a priest who does not want to lose contact with his flock.”

He said those entrusted with the Pope’s security must adapt to Francis’s style, not the other way round.

Mr Giani said Pope Francis “is well aware of the threats” against him, “but his only concern is for the faithful”.


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