10 December 2018

Man wanted to kill Pope Francis

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A South Jersey 17-year-old admitted Monday he plotted to kill Pope Francis during the papal visit to Philadelphia in September 2015, authorities said.

Santos Colon Jr. of Lindenwold intended to have a sniper shoot the pope during a papal Mass, while explosives went off in the surrounding area, the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey said.

"Colon engaged someone he believed would be the sniper, but in reality was an undercover FBI employee," the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.

"Colon engaged in target reconnaissance with an FBI confidential source and instructed the source to purchase materials to make explosive devices," the statement said.

Colon said he planned the attack from June 30 to Aug. 14, 2015, according to the statement.

The pope visited Philadelphia on Sept. 26-27 for the World Meeting of Families Congress, drawing huge crowds to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and other sites.

Colon, also known as Ahmad Shakoor, initially was charged as a juvenile under a sealed complaint, court records show. He pleaded guilty as an adult to attempting to provide material support to terrorists.

His parents attended the hearing before U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman in federal court, Camden, court records show.

In a plea agreement, Colon noted he has been a patient at a mental hospital or institution, but does not believe he currently is "mentally ill or mentally incompetent in any respect."

Under the agreement, federal authorities agreed not to initiate other charges against Colon for other alleged offenses. These included "attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (namely the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)" from April through Aug. 13 of 2015 and "attempting to obtain and use a weapon of mass destruction."

According the U.S. Attorney's Office, Colon faces a potential maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

2017.04.04 / 11:12
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