Tags: Pope Francis | War on Terrorism | pope | visit | terror | targets | fbi

FBI, DHS: Papal Events Are Possible Terrorist Targets

Image: FBI, DHS: Papal Events Are Possible Terrorist Targets
(Wire Services)

By    |   Friday, 18 Sep 2015 04:02 PM

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have designated the events surrounding Pope Francis' visit to the United States next week as attractive targets for terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida, though the agency said that no specific threats against the Pontiff currently exist at this time.

The events to be held for the Pope next week in New York, Philadelphia and Washington have been classified as "National Special Security Events" by the two agencies, CNN reports. As such, they would require extensive coordination and planning by authorities.

In a September threat assessment bulletin issued to authorities nationwide, the agencies that there was "absent a specific, actionable threat" during Pope Francis' first visit to the country.

The information, however, was circulated to "aid law enforcement and first responders in identifying and mitigating threats."

The bulletin, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, highlighted some of the recent arrests of potential terrorists in the United States and raised concerns about potential lone-wolf attacks "because of the difficulty in discovering such individuals or independent groups until they are operational."

In addition, the FBI and DHS noted that the Pope's visit was deemed to be "a powerful motivator for groups or individuals with anti-Catholic or anti-Christian viewpoints" who could justify attacks on religious grounds.

The agencies cited recent attacks carried out by groups inspired by ISIS or al-Qaida, including Boko Haram in Nigeria or al-Shabaab in Kenya, CNN reports.

Sunday's open-air Mass in Philadelphia is expected to draw more than one million people, making it a huge security challenge, according to the bulletin.

Pope Francis will also be speaking to Congress on Thursday and meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House.

To aid authorities, the FBI and DHS listed a number of behavioral indicators that could be used to help identify and stop potential attacks, according to the report.

Deemed "pre-operational surveillance" or "attack planning," the triggers include "suspicious purchases of dual-use items that could be used to construct an explosive device, unusual or prolonged interest in motorcade movement dynamics and security, and discreet use of cameras or video recorders, sketching, or note-taking."

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The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have designated the events surrounding Pope Francis' visit to the United States next week as attractive targets for terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida, though the agency said that no...
pope, visit, terror, targets, fbi, dhs
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2015-02-18
Friday, 18 Sep 2015 04:02 PM
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