Check out the following headlines in the British press about the arrest of six men who may have been planning to kill the Pope during his visit to England:
- "Muslim Plot to Kill Pope" (Daily Express)
- "Pope visit: Five suspected Islamist terrorists arrested over assassination plot" (Telegraph)
- "Police question six street cleaners held over plot to attack the Pope" (Daily Mail) (2nd paragraph: "Armed officers detained the men, all believed to be Muslims of North African origin, as they prepared to go on shift at a cleaning depot in Central London.")
Yet in neither of two separate articles by the Associated Press (Nicole Winfield and David Stringer/Victor L. Simpson) do the writers mention a possible extremist Muslim/Islamic connection. The writers simply identified the suspects as "London street cleaners."
Why is the mention of at least a possible Muslim connection warranted? Because if these men are indeed Muslims who had a lethal plan, it would not mark the first time that Islamic extremists have sought to kill the Pope.
Only by sheer luck did Philippine police thwart a terrorist plot to kill Pope John Paul II during a visit to Manila in 1995. If Ramzi Yousef did not accidently set some explosives on fire in a Manila apartment, the deadly plan, which was less than a week away, likely would have gone forward undiscovered.
In addition, the Daily Express reported that the "alleged plot is believed to be the second planned assassination on the Pope recently. In April, Moroccan students Mohamed Hlal, 26, and Ahmed Errahmouni, 22, were deported from Italy, strengthening fears that Al Qaeda were seeking recruits there." (This also refutes Stringer's and Simpson's claim in their article that "there have been no known plots against Benedict in his five-year papacy.")
Like other media outlets, the AP has downplayed the seriousness of the plot. However, the Daily Express quoted a Vatican source, "Publicly the incident is being played down but privately the arrests verge towards the serious side and came as a result of intelligence work."
The two articles by the AP follow dreadful coverage by the AP's Nicole Winfield earlier this week. In an error-ridden and slanted piece on Monday (9/13/10), she falsely claimed that Pope Benedict XVI had "broken his own rule" in his plans to beatify 19th century Anglican convert John Henry Newman. (Read more about that here.)
-- Dave Pierre is the author of the heralded new book, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church.