London: Poland`s last communist leader has claimed that the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 was carried out on the orders of Islamic terrorists.
The Polish-born pope almost died in the attempt when Turkish sniper Mehmet Ali Agca shot him with four rounds in St Peter`s Square in the Vatican in 1981.
The Daily Mail quoted General Wojciech Jaruzelski as saying: “Radical Islam detested the pope and saw in him a leader of crusades.”
With less than a month to go before the beatification of the late pope in Rome on May 01, the former general`s comments are likely to reopen long-held misgivings in Poland about the shooting 30 years ago.
Many in Poland have placed the blame at the feet of the Communist authorities and will now see Jaruzelski`s claims as an attempt to confuse the matter further.
The pope was shot as he was driven through a packed St Peter`s Square on May 13, 1981. He was hit four times, but survived after emergency surgery.
His assassin Mehmet Ali Agca was a trained sniper. Three Bulgarians, including airline representative Sergein Antonov, were also tried after Agca claimed he had been acting on behalf of the Soviets.
Although Agca was sentenced, the case against the Bulgarians fell apart due to a lack of evidence.
Jaruzelski said the court was right to drop the charges.