Yesterday, Italian police arrested four men suspected to have been planning to assassinate Pope Francis. The arrests, which occurred in Italy and across the Adriatic Sea in Kosovo, were a successful joint effort by the Kosovo police and Italy’s Counterterrorism Agents.
Simultaneous police raids occurred on Tuesday in Italy (Brescia, Vicenza, and Perugia) and Kosovo. The four suspected terrorists have been charged with participation in a terrorist network, incitement of racist hatred, and intent to attack the Pope. Along with the arrests, police confiscated weapons and written materials.
Kosovar citizen Imishiti Samet is considered the leader of the group. He was arrested in Kosovo, while his three companions were captured in Italy. The arrests follow an ominous message posted by Samet on social media: “Paris is in mourning, lights out on the Eiffel Tower, 158 dead, this is only the beginning.”
The small terrorist cell has also “propagated jihadist ideology through social networks” and announced that Pope Francis would be “the last pope,” said the police. According to the official report, police consider Samet’s group to be “highly dangerous.” In addition, they had “established direct links with jihadist networks active in Syria,” including deceased ISIS militant Lavdrim Muhaxheri.
“By Allah, if we brought down France in its homeland, in Paris, then we swear, by the command of Allah, we will attack American in its heartland, in Washington, Allah permitting, and we will invade Rome, Allah permitting,” announced Islamist militants in a frightening video released in mid-November.
Following the attack on Paris last month, Italy’s government has dispatched additional police forces and army units to patrol Rome’s streets as a temporary safeguard against future attacks.