Holy See Denies Rumors of Terrorist Plot Against Vatican

Media Cite Report by Italian Secret Service

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 16, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See says there is no reason to believe that the Vatican is being considered as a target of Muslim terrorism, a Vatican spokesman said today in response to speculation in the Italian media.

Igor Man, a European expert in Arab politics, wrote an article today in which he says that the cupola of St. Peter´s Basilica could become a target of the terrorist commandos working for Osama bin Laden.

Man´s article, published in the Il Nuovo digital daily bulletin, revealed that last Friday the Italian secret service gave the «highest Italian authorities» a report in which this risk is emphasized.

«There are no alarming elements that would justify rumors of this kind,» the vice director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Ciro Benedittini, said in statements to the press, while accompanying John Paul II on his pastoral visit to the Italian city of Frosinone.

Igor Man pointed out that the Italian secret service had already warned about the possibility of kamikaze attacks in Western countries, on the eve of the G-8 summit in Genoa last July.

Weeks before the opening of the Jubilee Year 2000, Italian secret service warned that the Vatican could become the object of Muslim terrorist attacks. Italian police reacted by tightening security at all points of access to the Vatican.

The small Vatican City State would not be able to resist kamikaze attacks like the ones in New York. Rome´s Fiumicino airport is only six minutes away by plane, and the army would not be able to react in time to defend against a hijacked plane.

In general, John Paul II is not seen as an enemy of the Arab or Muslim world. He is the first Pope to have entered a mosque. And he has consistently supported the just rights of every nation, including Palestine, and has criticized the bombings and embargoes that hurt the civilian populations of Iraq and Libya.

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