A media outlet affiliated with the Islamic State terror group has reportedly released a new poster depicting a vehicle driving towards the Vatican with a cache of weapons.
The poster, released by the pro-ISIS Wafa Media Foundation, shows the point of view from an unseen driver as the vehicle moves toward St. Peter's Basilica in the evening, with the message "Christmas blood," and the line "so wait" written in red underneath. A handgun, a rifle and a backpack is seen in the passenger seat, and a masked face is seen in the rearview mirror.
According to PJ Media, Wafa posters depicting terrorist attacks are circulated mostly on Telegram. One of its latest releases shows a semi-truck and crumbling skyscrapers with a group of armed, masked jihadists standing before the scene.
Last week, the pro-ISIS media outlet released a PR poster titled "the Specter of Terrorism," with the message: "You will pay very expensive price for your war on Islam. We will take revenge for the blood of Muslims on your land, we will kill the young before the older watch this."
The latest poster appears to echo the threats issued by an ISIS-linked group in the Philippines in August.
A group fighting the Philippine government for control of the city of Marawi released a video that month showing its fighters ripping up photographs of Pope Francis and threatening to come to Rome.
"Remember this, you kuffar [non-Muslims] – we will be in Rome, we will be in Rome, inshallah [god willing]," a jihadist said in the video.
At the time, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that "one cannot avoid worrying" after seeing the video.
"I saw, yes, yesterday that video that was shown on TV: evidently, one cannot avoid worrying. Especially because of this senseless hatred that there is," the cardinal told reporters.
The Vatican has stepped up the security in the area surrounding St. Peter's Square following a series of terrorist attacks across Europe.
However, Parolin said that, to his knowledge, no particular new security measures were in place at the Vatican as a result of the ISIS video.
Paloma García Ovejero, the pope's deputy spokesperson, noted that the security measures were not raised that time because the "controls are already very high. St. Peter's Square, as pilgrims and tourists can ascertain, is always very well protected."
She contended that the headquarters of the Catholic church are protected by "heavily qualified men," particularly the Vatican's police force, known as Gendarmerie Vaticana, which works in coordination with task forces both in Italy and abroad.