ROME, Italy — Police have established a high-security zone around the city’s most iconic monument, the Roman Colosseum, after the Islamic State issued a new threat to “conquer” Rome in its latest video.
New entrance gates are also being built around the Colosseum to enable better surveillance and control by law enforcement, and security is being reinforced around Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, according to Rome’s police chief Nicolò D’Angelo.
During the summer period, Rome is considered especially susceptible to possible terrorist attacks, since normal patterns are replaced by unfamiliar rhythms of city life. In August, Rome’s denizens vacate the city en masse, leaving the capital to tourists and pilgrims, who travel about on foot or by public transportation, visiting the city’s main monuments and filling local restaurants and trattorie.
In light of this, the central shopping district around Rome’s Via del Corso is also receiving an influx of special security patrols, manned by both city police and military personnel. New security measures also provide for the tightening of controls in ports and other tourist landings, especially those frequented by cruise ships.
Rome officials have said that the illegal settlements on the banks of the Tiber will be another area of special attention, and city shopping centers will also receive extra security. Some 800 more police officers have been deployed in the city to cover the bolstered security.
In a new video this week by the Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula, Wilayat Sayna, jihadists promise to strike Israel and “conquer Rome.”
“This is only the beginning,” declares the narrator of the 35-minute video, “and our meeting [will be] in Rome and Beit Al-Maqdis [Jerusalem].”
“Oh Jews, wait for us. The punishment is severe and soon you will pay a high price,” the narrator warns.
The audio recording is accompanied by views of Rome’s Piazza Navona as well as east Jerusalem, and also features ISIS jihadists attacking Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
Until now, Italy has shown itself to be remarkably resilient to attacks from Islamic terrorists and has been proposed as a model for counterterrorism for the whole world, in part because of its willingness to deport radicalized individuals seen as a threat to national security.
Last fall, leading military analyst Edward N. Luttwak lauded the Italian model, arguing that Italy has been successful in thwarting Islamic terror attempts because of its swift and decisive action.
In an essay titled “Doing Counterterrorism Right,” Luttwak noted that despite many factors going against Italy, Islamic terrorists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil. He contrasted Italy with France and Belgium, observing that although Italy is much more vulnerable than they are, it has been far more effective at stopping would-be terrorists before they strike.
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