The plot to kill the pope

The USNews report by Justin Ewers on the attempted assassination of John Paul II in 1981 does a good job of summarizing the information available on Mehmet Ali Agca and the plot to kill the pope: “I still feel great pain.” Within the first 24 hours of his arrest, Agca claimed ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and mentioned training with Palestinians in Lebanon. Agca later told investigators that his “real training had come at a leftist Syrian/PLO camp in Lebanon in 1978.” Evidence to the same effect had also come to light during Agca’s 1979 interrogation in Turkey. In his book The Plot to Kill the Pope, Paul Henze dates Agca’s terrorist training in Syria to summer trips in 1977 and 1978.
In March 1981, PLO “foreign minister” Farouk Khaddoumi had been received by the Papal Secretary of State. Following Agca’s apprehension and statement concerning a Palestinian connection, Palestinian apologist Hilarion Capucci went to the Gemelli Hospital in Rome where the pope was in intensive care to deny that Agca had been sponsored by a Palestinian organization. From the PLO to Bulgaria to the Soviet Union, the ultimate responsibility of the KGB in the attempted assassination — an attempt that must have been approved by Brezhnev and Andropov — remains in the shadows.


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