Philadelphia teenager detained over 'Isis-inspired threat' to Pope Francis

Sources have raised questions about the mental health of the teenager

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The FBI has detained a teenage boy in Pennsylvania for allegedly threatening to launch an ISIS-inspired assault on Pope Francis while the Catholic leader tours the US.

“The minor was inspired by [ISIS] and sought to conduct a detailed homeland attack which included multiple attackers, firearms, and multiple explosives, targeting a foreign dignitary at a high-profile event,” said a joint intelligence bulletin by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security cited by ABC News.

The “foreign dignitary” mentioned in that bulletin is the Pope, who will finish his six day US trip with two days of events in Philadelphia, the news channel said. He is arriving next week.


Rep Michael McCaul.jpeg
Rep Michael McCaul said he had been briefed by the Secret Service


It is likely the arrest of the 15-year-old was the case referred to over the weekend by chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep Mike McCaul. He said US authorities “have disrupted one particular case” involving threats to attack the Pope.

“The minor obtained explosives instructions and further disseminated these instructions through social media,” said the joint intelligence bulletin.

The boy has been charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organisation and attempting to provide material support to terrorist activity, the bulletin added.


But the network said sources familiar with the case emphasised that any threat from him was not imminent, and that the boy's plans were “aspirational”. Additionally, the sources said, there were questions about the boy’s mental health.

In addition, despite repeated threats from ISIS and other groups to target the Pope and the Vatican more broadly over the past year, there is no specific, credible threat to the Pope during his visit to the United States next week, law enforcement officials said Monday.

"We will not comment on any specific investigation or threat," a spokeswoman for the FBI’s field office in Philadelphia said in a statement sent to The Independent.

"The FBI is working closely with the United States Secret Service and our federal, state and local partners in advance of the papal visit to ensure the safety and security of all."