The Holy See has has established two new anti-terrorist units and begun closer collaboration with Interpol, the Vatican security chief says.
New Zealand Catholic reports the Vatican has set up two new anti-terrorism units that will work closely with international police experts to prevent possible attacks, the Vatican's director of security announced.
A "rapid intervention group" and an "anti-sabotage department" were recently established as sub-units of the Vatican's gendarme corps, Domenico Giani, corps director, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano on June 7.
He said the Vatican also has begun closer collaboration with Interpol, the International crime fighting organisation.
The Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI have been named as potential targets by extremist groups in recent years. Earlier this year, an al-Qaida leader accused the pope of leading an anti-Islam campaign.
Although the Vatican has downplayed the threats, it also has beefed up security, adding metal detectors for all visitors to St Peter's Basilica and attendees at papal events. The gendarme corps also has been deployed at Vatican territories outside Vatican City, in particular at Rome's patriarchal basilicas.
Giani said the rapid intervention group would use new channels and resources to identify high-risk situations and prepare immediate action to neutralise possible threats.
The anti-sabotage unit is specially trained to identify and react to suspicious packages or objects, he said. It also has a supplementary role in other investigations, he said.
Giani pointed out that the Vatican stepped up its anti-terrorism measures during Holy Year 2000, when a technologically updated command centre was inaugurated. The centre runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and is connected with a network of surveillance cameras throughout the 109 acre Vatican City.
Giani said the new cooperative arrangement with Interpol marked a big step forward for Vatican security, because it gives the Vatican access to a large data bank of suspects, the latest information on criminal or subversive organisations, and information on the latest anti-terrorism operational procedures.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, has backed Tony Blair's new Faith Foundation agreeing with Mr Blair that religious extremism was a danger.
"The truth has to impose itself by itself, not by the sword."
Commenting on the foundation, Cardinal Tauran said, "I am ready to help it. But it's a very demanding task. I suppose he has the charisma and the will, but it is very demanding. If we can help him, we would do so very willingly because he has a clear leadership and much good will."
Vatican adds two anti-terrorism units, says security director (New Zealand Catholic, 9/6/08)
West risks obsession with Islam, warns Vatican (Times Online, 11/6/08)