“There is nothing serious to this. There is no particular concern in the Vatican. This news has no foundation,” the spokesman told CNA Aug. 26.
The rumors spread following an Aug. 25 article published in Italian newspaper “Il Tempo,” which said the number of jihadists in Italy is on the rise due to the influx of unidentified immigrants in the country.
According to the article, Islamic fundamentalists led by Al-Baghdadi plan to “raise the level of confrontation” in Europe and alluded to Israeli sources who said that Pope Francis is “also in the crosshairs of ISIS” as “the greatest exponent of the Christian religions” and the “bearer of false truth.”
Al-Baghdadi has been named as Caliph – the head of state and absolute monarch – of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in western Iraq and north-eastern Syria, and is the former head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
While the reports regarding the threat of attacks in Europe and on the Pope appear to be unfounded, an Aug. 20 article published by Italian news agency Rai reveals that Italy is tightening its security.
According to the agency, there have been no targeted threats or specific indications of attacks on Italy. However, a nationwide alert has been issued.
In response to rumors that the Islamic State may be targeting Pope Francis, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. said there is no reason for concern.
Pope Francis, Italy, ISIS