Chris Brennan and Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writers
Last updated: Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 9:37 AMPosted: Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 8:00 AM
A New Jersey teenage boy allegedly inspired by ISIS has been arrested and charged with plotting an attack against Pope Francis during his visit to the United States, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
But Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said the case was being “blown way … out of proportion.”
“There is no indication that he had any ability to carry out anything,” Ramsey said. “There are no current threats. There’s nothing.”
Ramsey said the FBI gave him a heads up a while ago about an investigation into a potential threat against a “visiting dignitary.” The pope’s name was not mentioned in that briefing, he said.
ABC News first reported the arrest, citing an intelligence bulletin issued to law enforcement agencies from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
The bulletin said the 15-year-old was inspired by ISIS and “sought to conduct a detailed homeland attack which included multiple attackers, firearms, and multiple explosives, targeting a foreign dignitary at a high-profile event.”
The bulletin also said he obtained explosives instructions.
The teen was arrested last month and charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and to terrorist activity, ABC said.
A search of area federal court filings found no public record of those charges being filed.
ABC quoted sources as saying the boy’s plans were “aspirational” and that there were questions about his mental health.
Two law enforcement sources told the Inquirer on Monday that a New Jersey teenager had been questioned in recent weeks about threats related to the pope.
The FBI declined to comment.
“We will not comment on any specific investigation or threat,” the FBI’s Philadelphia Office said in a statement. “The FBI is working closely with the United States Secret Service and our federal, state and local partners in advance of the papal visit to ensure the safety and security of all.”
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