Two days ago, His Eminence Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State of the Vatican City State, said "The Vatican could be a target because of its religious significance. We are capable of increasing the level of security in the Vatican and the surrounding area. But we will not let ourselves be paralyzed by fear.” While he is correct that we should not be paralyzed by fear, it is not a matter of the Vatican possibly being a target of the Islamic State, but of the Vatican actually being a target.
In February 2015, following the beheading of the Coptic martyrs in Libya, security was increased in Italy and at the Vatican after the Islamic State threatened "the nation signed with the blood of the cross."
In March of 2015, Domenico Giani, Inspector General of the Vatican Gendarmes, acknowledged that the threat of the Islamic State "is real," although he did not know of any specific plans for an attack.
In September of 2014, Habeed al Sadr, Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See, warned that fighters of the Islamic State "want to kill the Pope."
In October of 2014, the Islamic State placed a photograph of the obelisk in St. Peter's Square topped with the flag of the Islamic State on the cover of its magazine, Dabiq. An accompanying article included these earlier words Mohammad al-Adnani, a spokesman for the Islamic State:
"We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market."In November of 2014, Italian authorities arrested two Tunisians in Rome in connection with possible plot from the Islamic State.
We see, then, that the Vatican has been a target of the Islamic State for more than a year now, as I noted two days ago.
Today it was announced that Italian authorities are searching for 5 people suspected of plotting attacks for the Islamic State within Italy, including one on the Basilica of St. Peter. This announcement comes only two days after Italy closed the airspace over the city of Rome due to the possible use of drones to attack the city.
Indeed, in the latest issue of Dabiq, the Islamic State asked "Allah to support the mujaheddin against the agents of idolatry and the crusaders until the flag of the Caliphate is raised on Istanbul and Vatican City."
To suggest that the Vatican could be a target of the Islamic State is ignoring the reality of the situation.