Man who shot Pope John Paul II to be released, wants to be baptised by Pope Benedict
Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot Pope John Paul II four times in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, is eligible for release next month, January 2010.
Agca was originally sentenced to life in prison for the shooting, but was pardoned in June 2000 by Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, with the Pope’s blessings. Pope John Paul II had met with Agca in prison on Dec. 27, 1983 and forgave him. Agca spent 19 years and one month in the Italian prison. At the time of his release, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told RAI television “regarding the truth of what happened May 13 1981, history can still uncover many things”.
He is currently seeking Polish citizenship, and a Rome Reports video from May 2009 states Agca “will be released next January.”
Pope Benedict, who was attacked by a crazed woman at Midnight Mass December 24th, , is said to be doing fine. 87 year old Roger Marie Élie Cardinal Etchegaray , however, fell down and broke his femur in the attack, which can be an injury with very serious consequences for elderly people.
In March 2006, An Italian parliamentary commission officially concluded that the U.S.S.R. was behind Agca’s 1981 assassination attempt of Pope John Paul II. BBC quoted from the commission’s findings, which read in part “This commission believes, beyond all reasonable doubt, that the leaders of the USSR took the initiative to eliminate Pope Karol Wojtyla”.
Before shooting the Pope in 1981, Agca had spent time in an Istanbul prison for the February 1, 1979 murder of journalist Abdi Ipekci , but had escaped from the Turkish prison after six months. Thus, he was extradicted and flown directly from Rome in 2000 to complete his prison sentence in Turkey.
Controversy also surrounded the murder of Ipekci, largely because of Agca’s involvement with intelligence operations tied to the U.S. CIA. Agca was “known to have been a member of the Turkish ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves organization” .
Multiple sources, including “Former military public attorney and member of the Turkish Supreme Court, Emin Deger, has established that the Grey Wolves collaborated with the counter-insurgency governmental forces, as well as the close ties between these state security forces and the CIA” , Wikipedia reports. The Grey Wolves is said to be “the Turkish branch of Operation Gladio”.
Daniele Ganser writes in Secret Warfare: Gladio “Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti confirmed to the Italian Senate in August 1990 that Italy had had a secret stay-behind army, codenamed Gladio – the sword. A document dated 1 June 1959 from the Italian military secret service, SIFAR, revealed that SIFAR had been running the secret army with the support of NATO and in close collaboration with the US secret service, the CIA.”
According to intelligence sources, Ipekci had reportedly asked CIA Turkish station chief Paul Henze “to stop the CIA’s illegal activities“; this prompted numerous sources to “name Henze as the instigator” of journalist Ipekci’s murder. Henze has been described as a “sinister individual” and “shameless old man” as recently as 2007.
Former U.S. Naval Officer and National Security Agency operative Wayne Madson wrote about Agca’s connection with the CIA, and noted that “Turkish Interior Minister Hussan Gunes, who investigated Agca, said he thought Agca was involved in an attempt to provoke an uprising in Poland and cut it off from the Warsaw Pact” .
Agca was previously released on parole from Turkish jail on January 12, 2006 (watch video of his release here); but a Turkish courts found that he was improperly released and .
Three months later, in September of 2006, Agca sent a letter to Pope Benedict via Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, stating “Pope Ratzinger listen to someone who knows these things very well. Your life is in danger. You absolutely must not come to Turkey. Pope Benedict you must know that between 1980 and 2000 I was in contact with various Western intelligence services and with the Vatican. In those twenty tears I learnt many things and I came into possession of many classified secrets…For your own welfare you must make a grand gesture of honour and resign.” Pope Benedict processed with his 2006 visit to Turkey without incident.
In a separate, lesser known attack on the Pope, Juan María Fernández y Krohn, a former priest in the Society of Saint Pius X, tried to stab Pope John Paul II with a bayonet in Fatima, Portugal on May 12, 1982. Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, an aide to Pope John Paul II who was with him at the time, revealed in October 2008 that the Pope was indeed stabbed, but the injury was kept secret: “I can now reveal that the Holy Father was wounded. When we got back to the room (in the Fatima sanctuary complex) there was blood.”