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Plot to Kill Pope: NJ Teen Hired 'Sniper' for Papal Philly Visit

Plot to Kill Pope: NJ Teen Hired 'Sniper' for Papal Philly Visit
Pope Francis arrives at Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. (Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 04 April 2017 08:09 AM

A plot to kill Pope Francis during his 2015 visit to Philadelphia went awry when the 15-year-old mastermind from New Jersey tried to hire a sniper, who turned out to be an FBI employee, to shoot the pontiff as explosives went off around a papal Mass.

The plot was detailed on Monday when Santos Colon, Jr., now 17, appeared in U.S. District Court, reported the Cherry Hill Courier-Post.

Colon, also known as Ahmad Shakoor, entered a guilty plea as an adult to attempting to provide material support to terrorists, according to a statement issued by Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick and Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord.

Colon planned for a sniper to shoot the pope during a papal Mass, while explosives went off in the surrounding area, said the prosecutors, but the person Colon thought was as a sniper turned out to be an undercover FBI employee.

Pope Francis visited Philadelphia on Sept. 26-27 for the World Meeting of Families Congress, drawing huge crowds, noted the Courier-Post.

"Colon admitted that from June 30, 2015, to Aug. 14, 2015, he plotted to assassinate Pope Francis during the papal visit to Philadelphia in September 2015," said the prosecutors. "… Colon engaged in target reconnaissance with an FBI confidential source and instructed the source to purchase materials to make explosive devices. FBI agents arrested Colon in 2015."

Colon, of Lindenwold, New Jersey, faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but no date has been set yet for sentencing.

When Colon was originally arrested in 2015, at 15, authorities said it appeared that he was radicalized on social media by the Islamic State, reported ABC News.

"The minor obtained explosives instructions and further disseminated these instructions through social media," according to a joint intelligence bulletin issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to law enforcement across the country on Aug 14 2015, per ABC News.

Sources told ABC News then that there were questions about the boy's mental health.

The Courier-Post said the plea agreement noted that Colon had been a patient at a mental hospital or institution, but did not believe he currently is "mentally ill or mentally incompetent in any respect."

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TheWire
A plot to kill Pope Francis during his 2015 visit to Philadelphia went awry when the 15-year-old mastermind from New Jersey tried to hire a sniper, who turned out to be an FBI employee, to shoot the pontiff as explosives went off around a papal mass.
plot, kill, pope, sniper, nj teen
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2017-09-04
Tuesday, 04 April 2017 08:09 AM
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