Written by Ashton Snyder on
 March 24, 2024

Flashback: Bill Clinton Targeted In Assassination Plot By Al Qaeda

In a moment that could have altered history, the U.S. Secret Service thwarted a potential assassination plot against President Bill Clinton during his visit to Manila in 1996.

A suspected al Qaeda operation aimed at the president was foiled thanks to the vigilance of Secret Service agents -- a moment nearly forgotten by history but an important reminder that terrorism is an ever-present threat. 

On November 23, 1996, as Air Force One was descending into Manila with President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton onboard, a grave threat emerged. The Secret Service, having intercepted intelligence about a bomb planted along the presidential motorcade route, acted swiftly to avert disaster.

The agents immediately rerouted the motorcade to ensure the safety of the Clintons, who were in the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. This quick decision-making was crucial in avoiding what was presumed to be an al Qaeda plan to assassinate the president. Subsequently, Filipino security forces discovered a potent bomb on a bridge and an abandoned SUV filled with AK-47 assault rifles along the intended route.

Uncovering a Plot with Global Implications

This assassination attempt is among al Qaeda's early efforts to directly attack the United States, a chilling reminder of the threats faced by global leaders. The detailed account of this failed plot was provided by eight retired Secret Service agents, offering unprecedented insight into the events of that day.

Despite the seriousness of the incident, it appears that no comprehensive U.S. government investigation was launched to follow up on the assassination attempt, a fact that has puzzled many, including the agents involved.

"I always wondered why I wasn't kept back to stay in Manila to monitor any investigation," expressed Gregory Glod, the lead Secret Service intelligence agent in Manila at the time. This sentiment underscores the mystery surrounding the U.S. response to the incident. The lack of a follow-up investigation has raised questions among some Secret Service agents, who remain puzzled by the immediate departure from Manila without a deeper inquiry into the foiled plot.

Classified Details and Lingering Questions

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi acknowledged an incident occurred but stated, "It remains classified," leaving many details of the U.S. response shrouded in secrecy. This stance has only added to the intrigue and speculation surrounding the event.

Former CIA director and Clinton's chief of staff at the time, Leon Panetta, expressed his concern, indicating a need for an investigation into how the incident was handled and whether crucial information was overlooked or mishandled.

The incident raises significant legal and procedural questions, given a 1986 law that criminalizes attempts by foreign extremist organizations to kill any U.S. national overseas. The requirement for attorney general authorization for an FBI investigation into such attempts further complicates the matter. Yet, the FBI's silence on the issue and the lack of evidence of a comprehensive U.S. government probe into the assassination attempt leave a gap in the public's understanding of the event's aftermath.

Connections to a Broader Threat Landscape

The plot to assassinate President Clinton is believed to have involved al Qaeda operatives and the Abu Sayyaf Group, a Filipino Islamist group, highlighting the interconnected nature of global terrorist networks. The involvement of Ramzi Yousef, linked to the 1993 World Trade Center attack, suggests a continuation of al Qaeda's long-term planning and operational capability. This incident underlines the complex security challenges faced by U.S. officials abroad, particularly in regions with active insurgent movements.

Despite the passing of years and the decline of al Qaeda's prominence since the death of Osama bin Laden, the threat of terrorism remains. Recent attacks and continued propaganda efforts by various groups remind us of the persistent danger posed by extremism.

The 1996 assassination attempt against President Clinton serves as a stark reminder of the lengths to which terrorist organizations will go to target U.S. leaders.

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About Ashton Snyder

Independent conservative news without a leftist agenda.
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