Acting on a tip from the FBI, Italian authorities arrested four people in Italy and Kosovo Tuesday who were suspected of planning an attack on Pope Francis, the Local reported. The seat of the Roman Catholic Church is the Vatican, situated just outside of Rome, where security has been high since the Islamic terror organization known as the Islamic State group, ISIS or Daesh, threatened attacks on the Italian capital. All four people arrested by police during raids are from Kosovo, a region inside Serbia in southeastern Europe where international recognition remains disputed. The four people stand accused of participation in a terror ring with specific intent to target the pope. “The [alleged] terrorist team propagated the ideology of jihad through social networks,” police said, as reported by the Local. The group allegedly claimed on social media that Francis would be “the last pope.”
The gang also praised the Paris terrorist attacks, in which 130 people were killed on November 13th. The four, all Kosovan citizens, were arrested as part of an anti-terror sweep conducted by police in Brescia in cooperation with Kosovan authorities, Corriere reported. Described as “a highly dangerous group” with alleged links to jihadists in Syria, they are accused of “condoning terrorism” and “inciting racial hatred”. Carmine Esposito, from Brescia’s police unit, told Rai Tre on Tuesday that the group “threatened Pope Francis, celebrated the recent attacks in Paris and threatened the ex-US ambassador in Kosovo.” In reference to Pope Francis, investigators found online threats made by the group, including one saying “this will be the last Pope”. The arrests followed raids in the Italian cities Brescia, Vicenza and Perugia as well as Kosovo. Police said “the [alleged] terrorist team propagated the ideology of jihad through social networks”.