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Will ISIS attack the Vatican this Christmas?

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
11/27/2017 (8 months ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

Additional threats suggest thew Vatican is a primary target.

A pro-ISIS media group has threatened the Vatican once again. The Wafa' Media Foundation has published another poster suggesting the Vatican is in the terror organization's crosshairs. Rome is a symbolic target for the Islamic State which is struggling to remain relevant under intense pressure. 

The message is clear, ISIS is begging the help of a lone wolf terrorist to perform an attack they can no longer do themselves.

The message is clear, ISIS is begging the help of a lone wolf terrorist to perform an attack they can no longer do themselves.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
11/27/2017 (8 months ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Pope Francis, Vatican, Rome, terrorists, threat, danger, Christmas


LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The Islamic State is targeting the Vatican this Christmas, according to a series of propaganda images released by the Wafa' Media Foundation. The foundation is a pro-ISIS organization that routinely releases propaganda in support of the terror organization. 

The latest image shows a jihadist overlooking St. Peter's Square with a white wolf next to him. The symbolism of the message is clear. The Islamic State is petitioning lone wolf sympathizers to carry out an attack on the Vatican. 

The propaganda is alarming, but there is also cause for optimism. The petition's language strikes a pleading tone, suggesting the Islamic State has no effective terror cell available to carry out an attack. Instead, the organization is dependent on random sympathizers to do its work. It may be impossible for the organization to coax its sympathizers to carry out an attack. Any attack that does develop will be advanced by an amateur plotter, who could be intercepted by vigilant authorities before striking. 

Despite the reasonable optimism, caution is required, especially this Advent and Christmas season when the attack is promised. The Islamic State has had intermittent success in finding lone wolves to carry out their attacks. 

The terrorists are naturally drawn to areas with large numbers of visitors. With more than 5 million visitors per year, Vatican City is one of the most visited locations in Europe. The amount of foot traffic around St. Peter's Square makes areas around the Vatican the most likely area for an attack. St. Peter's Square and Vatican City itself are well protected with barricades and armed officers. 

Pope Francis is protected by the Swiss Papal Guard. While the Guard is ceremonial, the men have military training and access to military-grade weapons including compact submachine guns. Several armed guardsmen patrol in plainclothes. There is no question these guardsmen will defend the Pope with their lives, and although few, they are a competent force. 

The greatest concern remains for pedestrians in the vicinity of St. Peter's Square. 

Italian authorities maintain an effective counterterrorism force and are constantly vigilant. 

The Islamic State is crumbling under pressure and is no longer a unified entity. Their operations are widely dispersed. They lack leadership, funding, and command and control. It's easy to produce and publish propaganda online. It's much more difficult to carry out an attack when the entire organization is being forcibly dismantled. 

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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2018
Priests and their Pastoral Ministry.
That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.


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