Was The Vatican Al-Qaeda’s Target?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told reporters that al-Qaeda’s Christmas Eve target was not Los Angeles, but the Vatican:

Terrorists planned to attack the Vatican with a hijacked plane on Christmas Day, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said in a newspaper interview published Saturday. … “A hijacked plane into the Vatican,” Berlusconi is quoted as saying. “An attack from the sky, is that clear? The threat of terrorism is very high in this instant. I passed Christmas Eve in Rome to deal with the situation. Now I feel calm. It will pass.”
He added, “It isn’t fatalism, but the knowledge of having our guard up. If they organized this, they will not pull it off.”

Of course, Islamofascists could consider the Vatican as the center of the Crusader world, but if so, it shows a stubborn defiance of history and common sense. The Vatican’s direct influence on warmaking has declined considerably since the Renaissance, and has been a nonfactor for almost two centuries. In fact, this particular Pope has no taste for confronting terrorism’s evils, as he has made plainly clear over the past two years, despite his participation in freeing Eastern Europe of the scourge of communist totalitarianism. An attack on the Vatican only makes sense if you consider two possible motivations:
1. Its symbolic value to Christendom in general, and to Catholics in particular.
2. The difficulty in defending it, making it a relatively “sure thing” as far as large-scale missions go.
If Berlusconi is correct, it shows that al-Qaeda may be forced to the “low-hanging fruit” options for targets these days. However, since this target would only serve to inflame Europe, bringing them closer to the US and eliminating a voice for appeasement, this may be a further indicator of deliberate misinformation for counter-intelligence purposes. After all, we have now heard that the targets were Los Angeles, Las Vegas, the Vatican, and Tappahannock, VA,or possibly a naval refueler with the same name. If al-Qaeda needed to check for leaks, the easiest way to do that would be to disseminate several false targets to specific people and then see which ones appear in the media and/or get a security response from the West. Berlusconi and others in the US and Europe need to quit divulging intelligence if they want to protect whatever sources they are quoting. (via Instapundit)