Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/12/pope_terror_team/

Pope gives blessing to anti-christ terrorist squad

Gendarmes get Interpol link, Swiss Guards get guns

By Joe Fay

Posted in Bootnotes, 12th June 2008 10:46 GMT

The Vatican’s security service will be tapping into Interpol’s computers after setting up an in-house anti-terrorism unit.

According to reports, the Vatican’s Gendarmerie has put together a "rapid intervention group" and an "anti-sabotage department" as sub-units of its gendarmerie corps. The Vatican will also work more closely with Interpol, giving it access to the global-plod organisation's database of shifty-looking terrorist types and other useful information.

The formation of the squad might seem a little belated, given that the last pope was himself the victim of an assassination attempt, while the incumbent has been known to put noses out of joint with his pronouncements about the state of relations between the Islamic world and, er, Byzantium.

Then again, all change takes time, and this is the oldest institution in Europe we’re talking about here.

According to L'Osservatore Romano the beefed-up security organisation will operate both inside and outside the Vatican, with gendarmes travelling with the pope, presumably sweeping cathedrals, bishops palaces and the other venues he visits for bombs, bugs, heretics, demons, and the like.

The Vatican Gendarmerie should not be confused with the Swiss Guards, the flamboyantly dressed crack troops that provide the tiny Episcopal state’s more visible security.

For all that they look like a relic of the 16th century, the stripey-panted guards have also been given anti-terrorism training, and now pack SIG P75 pistols and Heckler-Koch sub-machine guns about their baggy-trousered person. Presumably these will only deployed if their halberds don’t do the job.

Of course, for the conspiracy-minded out there, it is clear that earthly terrorists aren’t what this beefing-up of security is all about. The director of the Vatican Observatory said just last month that it was entirely plausible that aliens are “out there”. Perhaps Pope Benedict knows more than he’s letting on, and the Swiss Guards are even now unpacking a consignment of photon torpedoes to ward off a surprise attack. ®