This week, Italian paper Il Tempo reported that Pope Francis was “in the crosshairs” of the Islamic State (IS), with the jihadi group calling him the “bearer of false truth.”
Il Tempo reported that according to their sources within Italy’s intelligence services, the Islamic State plans on “raising the level of confrontation” with Pope Francis because he is the “greatest exponent of the Christian religion.”
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said to Catholic News Agency, after catching wind of the IS threats: “There is nothing serious to this. There is no particular concern in the Vatican.”
Earlier this week, however, Italy issued an official terrorism alert, largely because of increased concern about the threat posed by the radical Islamist group. Rome cautioned that IS could hit “sensitive targets” throughout Italy and its embassies abroad, including that of the Holy See. Deputy interior minister Filippo Bubbico warned that churches, mass transit stations, seaports, and airports were all at risk. “ISIS poses an international and European security threat, and we in Italy feel particularly exposed,” said the deputy interior minister.
The Italian parliament recently approved a measure that would send arms to the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters battling the Islamic State in northern Iraq.
Italian paper Corriere della Sera has recently reported that over 50 Italians are currently fighting for the Islamic State jihadis stationed in Iraq and Syria.
In a matter of days, IS fighters successfully cleansed the many-centuries-old Christian community of Mosul, Iraq. “They gave us four choices: Either convert to Islam or pay tax, or leaving the city, or the sword,” one refugee told CBN news. “They are using the sword to cut off the hand and also beheading others. So I don’t think this is the behavior of human beings, but wild animals do that,” he added.