From The New York Times:
An investigation into a terrorist cell in Sardinia may have thwarted a possible attack on the Vatican in 2010, an Italian prosecutor and police officials said on Friday. Prosecutor Mauro Mura said at a news conference in Cagliari, Sardinia, that investigations into suspected support for Al Qaeda revealed that a Pakistani man who was in Rome in March 2010 was “described as a kamikaze.” Intercepted conversations indicated that an attack was being studied, “perhaps even at Vatican City,” the prosecutor said, and that the Pakistani man had been described as being “destined to martyrdom.” The attack never took place, possibly because members of the terrorist cell became aware that the police were on their trail, Prosecutor Mura said. “Our activity was indispensable to ensure that the irreparable did not happen,” he added. The pope at the time, Benedict XVI, was not deemed by investigators a likely target. “Kamikaze, crowded place, these are the clues,” the prosecutor said. Tens of thousands of people flock to St. Peter’s Square most Wednesdays and Sundays to hear the pope speak. St. Peter’s Basilica is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. “It appears it was a 2010 hypothesis that had no sequel,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, as saying. The revelations about a suspected plot against the Vatican emerged at a news conference in which Italian law enforcement officials announced the arrest of nine foreigners — eight from Pakistan and one from Afghanistan — in several Italian cities, on suspicion of murder, terrorism and human trafficking. The arrests were not in connection with the possible attack on the Vatican.