VATICAN CITY, April 22 (UPI) -- A new book charges the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency tried to frame Bulgaria for the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II in 1981.
"Kill the Pope: The Truth About the Assassination Attempt on Pope John Paul II" argues the motivation behind the CIA's attempted frame-up was to discredit communism, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
Italian journalist Marco Insaldo said he and co-author Yasemin Taskin of Turkey base their book on 20 years of research into the incident.
Pope John Paul II was seriously injured May 13, 1981, when he was shot at close range by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca.
It has been broadly accepted that Agca had connections to Bulgaria's communist secret service and perhaps even the Soviet Union's KGB.
"There is no evidence that Bulgaria had anything to do with the attack on the pope," Insaldo said. "The Bulgarian connection is the creation of the CIA."
Insaldo argues that Agca, who belonged to an outlawed ultra-nationalist and pro-Islam Turkish group, tried to kill the pope purely because of his and the group's fanatical anti-Western ideology.
"Alexander Haig, then U.S. secretary of state, had asked the CIA to find anything that could be used against the communists," Insaldo said.
The book alleges that the Italian secret service, in cooperation with the CIA, forced Agca to confess to a Bulgarian connection that Agca later retracted.