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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.


Read next: Pope Francis Condemns ISIS Killing of Coptic Christians

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