March 2, 2015 10:40 PM EST The commander of the Vatican’s security forces acknowledged the existence of a real threat to Pope Francis from ISIS, but said there is no indication of a planned attack on the Catholic leader.
“The threat exists,” Domenico Giani told Italian state publication
Polizia Moderna, reports the Catholic news website Crux.
Giani is the inspector-general of the Corpo della Gendarmeria, the police unit that protects Vatican City. “At the moment, I can say that we know of no plan for an attack against the Vatican or the Holy Father,” he said.
ISIS explicitly mentioned Italy and its Christians as a potential target recently, calling it “the nation signed with the blood of the cross” in a video that featured images of 21 Egyptian Christians beheaded this month. The Islamic militant organization also warned of its proximity to Italy, saying its forces are “south of Rome” in Libya.
Four months ago, ISIS propaganda magazine Dabiq also featured Vatican City’s famed St. Peter’s Square on its cover with the headline “The Failed Crusade,” depicting the terrorist group’s flag flying over the piazza’s central obelisk.
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Alessandro Bianchi—Reuters A scarf is tossed at Pope Francis by a faithful. Tony Gentile—Reuters Italian artist Mauro Pallotta's superhero rendering of Pope Francis in a street near St. Peter's Basilica. Alessandra Benedetti—Corbis Blowing a kiss to pilgrims gathered at Saint Peter's Square. Vincenzo Pinto—AFP/Getty Images Meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the private library of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. Vatican Pool/Contrasto/Redux With Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Vatican. Alessandra Benedetti—Vatican Pool/Corbis A wind gust lifts Pope Francis's mantle as he arrives at the traditional Washing of the Feet during Holy Thursday. Alberto Pizzoli—AFP/Getty Images Kissing a man's at the traditional Washing of the Feet. Alberto Pizzoli—AFP/Getty Images Visitors take photos of Pope Francis as he speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Michael Sohn—AP Listen to the most important stories of the day. More Must-Reads From TIME Meet the 2024 Women of the Year Greta Gerwig's Next Big Swing East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment In the Belly of MrBeast The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap How Long Should You Isolate With COVID-19? The Best Romantic Comedies to Watch on Netflix Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time