LONDON – A top Al Qaeda official suspected of having planned the Sept. 11 terror attacks also plotted to kill Pope John Paul II during a trip to the Philippines in 1999, a British newspaper reported Sunday.
Quoting documents from Philippines intelligence services, The Sunday Times said Usama bin Laden's lieutenant, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, planned on killing the pope with a pipe bomb planted in a park where John Paul was to speak, or if that failed, with high-velocity rifles equipped with laser scopes.
The plot was aborted when the pope's visit was canceled, the newspaper said.
Philippines police have already named Mohammed as the prime suspect behind a 1995 plot to kill the pope in the southeast Asian nation. Abdul Hakim al Hashim Murad, a Pakistani, was arrested in Manila in 1995 for his alleged involvement in that plan.
Mohammed evaded capture but returned to the Philippines four years later, months before the pope was due to visit Manila for a canonization, The Sunday Times said.
The newspaper quoted the intelligence documents as saying Mohammed might be in Pakistan but warning that "he may attempt to leave the country to elude arrest as well as conduct terrorist activities."