Written By Real Kevin Jay on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 | 4:40 PM
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Philippines, the largest Catholic nation in Asia, on Jan 15 to 19. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III had announced that security forces in the country are being tasked to "double the effort" to protect Pope Francis' against reported threat from the ISIS.
It was remembered that in November 1970, Pope Paul IV had been near-assassinated by Bolivian artist Benjamin Mendoza [VIDEO] and in 1995, the plan to assassinate Pope John Paul II was discovered and prevented it from happening. Chemicals used in creating bomb have been discovered by authorities in the apartment rented by Ramzi Yousef.
"I want to see them double the effort especially for the head of the Holy Mother Church. There shouldn't be any incident while he's in our country," Mr Aquino told reporters in New York as he ended his two-week visit in Europe and the United States.
Mr. Aquino's remark came in the wake of Iraq Ambassador to Vatican, Habeeb Al Sadr, warning that the ISIS is planning to kill the Pope during one of his overseas trips. "What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear -- they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible," Al Sadr said during an interview with Iraqs ambassador to Vatican in Italian newspaper La Nazione.
Back in 1995, Philippine and Western intelligence experts had reportedly foiled an assassination plot against Pope John Paul II, dubbed as the Bojinka plot. The assassination was allegedly planned during the former Pope's visit in the Philippines that was also scheduled in the month of January. However, further investigation revealed that the plot was deliberately divulged to dissuade the authorities' attention from the original terrorist activity aimed at blowing up aircrafts. Around this time, intelligence experts discovered evidence that a worldwide network of terrorists exist. The militants had reportedly received weapons training and religious indoctrination in the wake of the ten-year conflict in the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, Philippine military chief General Gregorio Catapang Jr. gave his words that Pope Francis will be safe for the entire duration of his stay in the Philippines. "We are preparing a very elaborate security plan for our Pope. We won't fail the Pope in his visit here," Catapang said.
Mr. Aquino had also downplayed reports saying that the ISIS had already infiltrated the Philippines. Asked if the Philippines would support U.S. airstrikes against the ISIS, Mr. Aquino hinted concurrence, but would only do "something that is doable and within our capabilities without posing undue risks to our forces or the country at large." He said that Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs is already meeting with some State Department officials to confirm "if they are asking for assistance and what manner of assistance -- they are asking from us." - au.ibtimes.com