American man pleads guilty to plotting attack on pope during 2015 visit
A New Jersey man has pleaded guilty of plotting an attack on Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit to Philadelphia in 2015 during the World Meeting of Families.
Santos Colon Jr, 17, of Lindenwold in Camden County, pleaded guilty in a New Jersey federal court to one count of attempting to provide material support to terrorists.
Court documents show Colon admitted to acting under the name Ahmad Shakoor in support of Daesh, though it is not clear whether he was in communication with the terrorist group.
In a statement, the US Department of Justice said that in 2015, Colon planned between 30th June and 14th August to utilise a sniper to shoot the pope during his public Sunday Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on 27th September. He also planned to set off bombs in the surrounding area.
Up to several hundred thousand people were in attendance on the parkway that day as the concluding Mass to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and the first apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the United States was celebrated without incident.
Picture: Pope Francis arrives to celebrate the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on 27th September. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).