Iraq's Vatican Ambassador Says ISIS Will Go After the Pope

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Pope Francis has rejected additional security for his trip to Albania, a spokesman said, despite warnings that ISIS has made him a target.

"What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope,"  Habeeb Al Sadr, Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See, told Italian newspaper La Nazione, according to The Telegraph. "I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of Isil who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians. Isil could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe."

The pope is scheduled to visit Albania, a predominantly Muslim country, on Sunday. He will be using his regular open-top Jeep, the vehicle he usually rides at the Vatican.

"There is no reason to change the pope's itinerary," the Rev. Ferderico Lombardi said in a briefing Monday. "We are obviously paying attention but there is no need for concern or a change to his program in Albania."

According to Lombardi, the pope does not want a barrier between him and the public during his trip Sunday. No specific threats have surfaced; instead, claims of ISIS' interest have stemmed from Italian media reports claiming Muslim extremists who trained in Iraq and Syria may return to Albania.

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The pope has commented on ISIS in recent months. Just last Saturday, he spoke of an impending third world war if countries continued to carry on battles "fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction." In August, he endorsed the use of force against ISIS in Iraq during a press conference, but was careful not to refer directly to a specific method.

"In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor," he said then. "I underscore the verb 'stop.' I'm not saying 'bomb' or 'make war,' just 'stop.' And the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated."

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