It quietly disclosed the arrest in a classified briefing last month.
“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,” the briefing states.
Federal authorities told ABC News that the “foreign dignitary” was Francis and that the plot was not serious but merely “aspirational.”
The pope is set to arrive in the U.S. on Sept. 22, making stops in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia during his six-day visit. The Secret Service will lead the security logistics surrounding the pontiff’s trip, working with other federal and local agencies.
On Sunday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said on ABC’s “This Week” that the Secret Service had informed him of a “disrupted” security threat to the pope. Citing the classified briefing, neither McCaul nor the Secret Service could elaborate on the matter. ABC News reported Tuesday that, according to its sources, McCaul was referring to this arrest.
“The pope is a very … passionate man. He likes to get out with the people and with that comes a large security risk. We are monitoring very closely threats against the pope as he comes into the United States,” McCaul said Sunday. “We have disrupted one particular case in particular, but as that date approaches, I think we’re all very, being very vigilant to protect him as he comes into the United States.”
During Francis’ visit, each city will incorporate heightened security measures, including airport-style screenings at papal events. In addition, New York City law enforcement officials will impose a no-fly zone and a ban on drones. The Secret Service has already taken possession of the popemobile, which Francis will use in several motorcades and processions, including one in New York’s Central Park.