The Pope is shot, May 1981; photo - PAP/EPA
With under a month to go before the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II in Rome on 1 May, former communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski has claimed that radical Islam could have been behind the attempt to assassinate the Polish Pope thirty years ago.
Radical Islam detested the Pope and saw in him a leader of crusades, the 87 year-old Jaruzelski has told the Jezus Catholic magazine.
Rejecting the long-standing theory of Soviet, or Bulgarian communist involvement in the assassination attempt, Jaruzelski said that, the Islamic trail would seem the most logical.
The Pope was shot as he was driven through a packed St Peter's Square on 13 May 1981. Four bullets hit the pontiff, but he survived thanks to emergency surgery.
The would-be assassin was Mehmet Ali Agca, a trained sniper of Turkish background.
Three Bulgarians, including airline representative Sergei Antonov, were tried alongside Agca, after the latter claimed that he was acting on behalf of the Soviet satellite.
Although Agca was sentenced, the case against the Bulgarians fell apart owing to lack of evidence.
Jaruzelski claims the court was correct to drop the charges.
During a visit to Bulgaria in 1982 or 1983, I candidly asked Todor Zhivkov, then Secretary of the Communist Party: 'Comrade Todor, what can you tell me in confidence about the Bulgarian trail?' He answered: 'Comrade Jaruzelski, do you take us for a mass of fools? Do you think that we would leave Antonov in his place if he was really involved in an attack?
Jaruzelski continued that there were various countries and various forces that wanted the Pope to be eliminated, but it does not mean that they gave Ali Agca the order to kill him.
In the general's opinion, radical Islam detested the Pope, and saw in him a leader of crusades.
It might not be a coincidence that Ali Agca is a Turkish national, and that he had already threatened to kill John Paul II during his visit to Turkey in November 1979.
It was suggested that Jaruzelski would attend the beatification ceremony on May 1 at the Vatican which some former Solidarity-era activists considered outrageous. He announced that because of his bad health he would not be able to attend, however.
Two weeks ago it was announced that Jaruzelski has cancer. (nh/pg)