The coming days are going to get interesting. Buckle up.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,”
A 15-year-old Philadelphia-area boy, “inspired” by Islamic State terrorists and allegedly threatening a high-profile attack on Pope Francis during his historic visit next week, has been arrested by the FBI, ABC News reports.
ABC News reports the disturbing case is likely the one chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, referred to Sunday when he reported authorities had “thwarted one plot” against the pontiff.
But it also illustrates the heightened concerns about security for the papal visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia, which is primarily in the hands of the Secret Service.
An estimated 2 million are expected to attend an outdoor mass in Philadelphia at the conclusion of the visit, and in New York City, Police Department Commissioner William Bratton called the pontiff’s protection “the largest security challenge that the department and the city has ever faced.”
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” added the city’s Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Security in New York may be especially daunting, given the pope’s multiple stops along the way, including to the 9/11 memorial, a Harlem school, the United Nations, Central Park and a mass at Madison Square Garden.
Local, state and federal agencies – including the FBI, intelligence services, the transportation authority and Coast Guard – all held drills Monday in preparation, and there’ll be more air restrictions during the visit as well.
The city is enacting street closures, security checks and a huge list of prohibited items for spectators.
With the arrest of the Philadelphia-area teen, months-long fears have been renewed about ISIS threats to the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, with one expert telling Newsmax the pontiff’s security next week will exceed even that given the president.
“The minor was inspired by [ISIS] and sought to conduct a detailed homeland attack which included multiple attackers, firearms, and multiple explosives, targeting a foreign dignitary at a high-profile event,” a joint intelligence bulletin by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security stated, ABC News reports.
The “foreign dignitary” is the Pope, ABC News reports.
The teen’s plans were “aspirational” rather than imminent, ABC News reports, adding officials also have questions about the boy’s mental health.
Still, an FBI-DHS intelligence bulletin shows how serious the ISIS threat is being taken, noting that “several recent instances” –- including the case tied to the papal visit – “demonstrate some youth are vulnerable to messaging from [ISIS] and its supporters,” ABC News reports.
“[I]nnovative use of social media and messaging has played a key role in motivating young U.S.-based males and females to travel to join the self-declared Islamic State or allegedly attempt to conduct attacks in the Homeland on behalf of” ISIS, according to the bulletin, ABC News reports.
Categories: Roman Catholic Church News