Pope Rejects Extra Security on Trip Despite Potential ISIS Threat

Vatican downplays reports pontiff a target on upcoming trip to Albania.

— -- Pope Francis will have no additional security when he travels to the predominantly Muslim country of Albania this week, despite reports that the pontiff is a target for ISIS terrorists.

The pope will use the same open-topped Jeep he uses at the Vatican during his single-day trip Sunday, a spokesman confirmed Monday.

“There is no reason to change the pope’s itinerary,” the Rev. Frederico Lombardi said in a briefing Monday, explaining that there were no specific threats or concerns. “We are obviously paying attention but there is no need for concern or a change to his program in Albania.”

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The pope, 77, will use the open-topped vehicle because he prefers to be unhindered, Lombardi said.

Recent unsourced Italian media reports claim the pope is a target for ISIS terrorists. Italian news reports say Albanian authorities are concerned about Muslim extremists who trained in Iraq and Syria who may have returned, according to The Associated Press.

Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See has also publicly expressed concerns.

"The Pope is indeed a target,” Habeeb Al Sadr told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero late last week. "We know very well how these terrorists think… I would not exclude that ISIS would arrive to strike him.”

Pope Francis told reporters last month the world would be justified in using force to stop ISIS aggression.