Rome, Italy, Dec 14, 2010 / 14:55 pm
Speaking frankly about “the known al-Qaida antipathy to the Pope,” American embassy officials in 2008 asked the U.S. State Department to consider an effort to help Vatican security forces deal with terrorist threats.
The WikiLeaks website recently published a Dec. 19, 2008 State Department cable reputedly from the U.S. Embassy in Rome. The cable, classified as “secret,” documented a request from the U.S. Vatican Embassy to plan and fund a “crisis management tabletop exercise” with Vatican security services.
The stated purpose of this effort was to enhance the Vatican’s crisis response abilities and to “foster a dialogue with the Vatican on counter-terrorism.”
“Al-Qaida has publicly identified the Pope and the Catholic Church as an enemy (‘Crusaders’), and Vatican City attracts hundreds of thousands of American citizen visitors each year, both tourists and pilgrims,” the cable continued.