According to a statement by federal prosecutors, a New Jersey teen pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to terrorists to kill Pope Francis in 2015 during a public Mass in Philadelphia.
The media has been calling his actions “an ISIS-inspired effort.”
On Monday, 17 year old Santos Colon admitted in a federal court in Camden, New Jersey, that he tried to collaborate with a sniper to kill the Pope during his visit in Philadelphia and also set off explosives in the surrounding areas.
From June 30 to August 14, 2015, Colon communicated with someone he thought is a sniper, but actually was an undercover FBI agent, prosecutors said. FBI agents were able to arrest Colon in 2015 and prevented the attack from happening.
On Monday, prosecutors issued a statement saying: “Colon engaged in target reconnaissance with an FBI confidential source and instructed the source to purchase materials to make explosive devices.”
Colon, who is a U.S. citizen from Lindenwold, New Jersey, is charged as an adult with one count of attempting to provide material support to terrorists, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Inspired by ISIS:
The motivation of the attempted assassination and attack are not clear, however, NBC News reported that prosecutors said that Colon confessed that the terror plot was inspired by the Islamic State.
Prosecutors said that Colon also faces a fine of $250,000, or an amount equal to twice the amount of any financial gain or loss from the offence. The investigation is still ongoing, and there has been no date set yet for sentencing.
The Pope had visited Philadelphia during 2015, between Sept. 26 and 27. He held a public mass which attracted hundreds of thousands of people, it was considered his biggest event in the United States.