A large scale anti-terror operation by Italian authorities has netted several ISIS terrorists who authorities believe were planning to attack Rome. Italy's Interior ministry says "Rome is in the crosshairs of ISIS" and "Italy's terror threat has never been so high."
Five persons were arrested in the sweep and 20 are under investigation. Police were tipped off to the network by analyzing the cell phone of Anis Amri, the attacker at the Berlin Christmas market in 2016. Four days after the attack, Amri was killed in a shootout with police near Milan in northern Italy.
One of the suspects was sharing instructions with the group on how to use a rocket launcher and was also trying to obtain a van.
The Islamic State has long hoped to attack and conquer Rome. They believe it is necessary to fulfill what Islam teaches was the prophecy of Muhammed and to prepare the return of the Muslim messiah: the Mahdi.
"ISIS thinks that Rome is one of its primary goals and is in its timetable," Robert Spencer, author of The Complete Infidel's Guide to ISIS, said.
The Islamic State revealed in its publication "Black Flags From Rome" that it will rely on sleeper cells to launch the attack.
The main event in their plan to attack Rome would be the beheading of the Pope in St. Peter's Square; broadcast and live-streamed to an international audience.
Fearing an Easter attack, police in Rome beefed up the use of metal detectors and surveillance cameras around the city.
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