As the United States is preparing for the visit of Pope Francis, security efforts are focused on a potential terror plot:

On the eve of Pope Francis’ historic first visit to the United States, law enforcement officials are concerned terrorists could disguise themselves as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians to carry out attacks, according to a report from NBC News Monday. A memo titled “First Responder Impersonators: The New Terrorist Threat,” from the Pennsylvania State Police’s Criminal Intelligence Center and sent to law enforcement, warned that terrorists could falsely identify themselves as first responders to enter secure areas and carry out attacks.

“The impersonators’ main goals are to further their attack plan and do harm to unsuspecting citizens as well as members of the emergency services community,” the memo read, according to NBC News.

This contrasts to a security incident that occurred in 2013, during the papal visit to Brazil:

The papal visit is now classified at the highest level of security — it was raised to “high risk” from “medium risk” after his car got stuck in a crowd of enthusiastic followers Monday, the official said.

The source says the problem in part stemmed from the pope instructing drivers not to avoid crowds.

After Francis arrived in Brazil on Monday, he got into a silver hatchback Fiat for the drive from the airport to downtown Rio de Janeiro. Along the route, the vehicle became pinned between a bus and a crush of well-wishers who were reaching into the car to touch the pope.

One could well imagine a mix of the two being a significant hazard to the Pope Francis: The motorcade pinned in by enthusiastic Catholics and fraudulent “police officers” performing crowd control. Add in a Tzarnaev brother-style bomber, and it would be an Islamic extremist trifecta of death, mayhem, and terror.

Meanwhile, the Cubans were dealing with their own security incidents…involving dissidents desperate for messages of peace and freedom from the Holy Father:

Earlier in the day, the Pope celebrated Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square in front of tens of thousands of people.

He was driven through the crowds in a white pope-mobile, pausing to kiss children who were held up to him.

As the ceremony got underway, Cuban security officers detained at least three people who appeared to be trying to distribute leaflets in the capital’s Revolution Square, a large open area dominated by a massive likeness of revolutionary hero Che Guevara.

The three people were tackled and dragged away by the officers.

Over 150,000 people attended Cuba’s Mass, and the Pope managed to get in a dig on communism during the homily:

Francis told the Cubans that they, too, should allow themselves “to slowly overcome our preconceptions and our reluctance to think that others, much less ourselves, can change.”

“Whoever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others,” he said. “Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people.”

It was a subtle jab at the communist system, which the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi didn’t deny.

I predict the Pope’s next remarks on economic systems will be directed against capitalism — once again. As FNC’s religious correspondent Lauren Green notes, “Pope Francis is an equal opportunity offender. He will make sure that everybody feels a little bit uncomfortable.”

I hope he remains safe enough to make those uncomfortable remarks.


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