Security officials in the US claim they have disrupted a threat to Pope Francis ahead of his historic visit to the US next week and are “monitoring very closely” the situation.
The pope’s upcoming trip to the United States has prompted a massive security operation in the three cities he will visit – New York, Washington and Philadelphia – with a number of major roads shut for the duration of his visit.
The pope will be in the country for six days and is due to arrive on the afternoon of September 22 in Washington DC. His stay in the capital will include a White House visit, a parade and a public appearance on the West Front of the Capitol.
On the last day of the Pope’s Washington visit, he will speak before a joint meeting of the House and Senate.
The Pope then goes to New York, where on September 25 he will speak at the United Nations, participate in a parade through Central Park and say Mass at Madison Square Garden.
On Sunday, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep Michael McCaul, said one threat had already been detected and stopped.
Speaking to ABC News, he said he was “concerned” about the situation ahead of the visit and had been briefed by the Secret Service on the matter.
“The Pope is a very – I’m Catholic, by the way – he is a very passionate man,” MrMcCaul said. “He likes to get out with the people. And with that comes a large security risk.”
He added: “We are monitoring very closely threats against the pope as he comes in to the United States. We have disrupted one particular case in particular.
“But as that date approaches, I think we’re all very…vigilant to protect him as he comes into the United States.”
It was not clear whether the “disrupted” case McCaul mentioned was a threat against the pope, or a reference to a recent arrest in Florida of a man who allegedly was planning an attack at a September 11 memorial in Kansas City, the Associated Presssaid.
In January, the Vatican’s press office dismissed reports that the Vatican was under threat from Islamic State terrorists.
But DomenicoGiani, the head of the Vatican City’s police force, said a couple of months later that “the threat exists,” adding that “we know of no plan for an attack against the Vatican or the Holy Father.”
The Pope’s visit to the US will come on the heels of four days in Cuba, where he will spend time in Havana, Holguin and visit Santiago de Cuba.
The Cuban authorities have released around 3,500 prisoners ahead of his visit. But on Sunday, Reuters reported that 50 members of the Ladies in White, a dissident group, were detained.

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