Osama bin Laden came within minutes of killing Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton came within minutes of being assassinated in the Philippines by terrorists controlled by Osama bin Laden, a new book has revealed.
Tom Leonard in New York
7:00PM GMT 22 Dec 2009
Bill Clinton came within minutes of being assassinated in the Philippines Photo: AP
The US leader was saved shortly before his car was due to drive over a bridge in Manila where a bomb had been planted.
The foiled attack came during Mr Clinton's visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in the city in 1996.
At one point during his stay, he was scheduled to visit a local politician, his route taking him across a bridge in central Manila.
But as the presidential motorcade was about to set off, secret service officers received a "crackly message in one earpiece" saying intelligence agents had picked up a message suggesting an attack was imminent.
The transmission used the words "bridge" and "wedding" – a terrorists code word for assassination.
The motorcade was quickly re-routed and American agents later discovered a bomb had been planted under the bridge.
The subsequent US investigation into the plot "revealed that it had been masterminded by a Saudi terrorist living in Afghanistan – a man named Osama bin Laden".
Although al Qaeda members have admitted targeting Mr Clinton in the 1990s, no evidence has previously emerged suggesting the group's leader was involved or that the terrorists came close to succeeding.
Ken Gormley, an American law professor, said he was told by Louis Merletti, the former director of the Secret Service, of the bomb plot.
In The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs Starr, Prof Gormley wrote: "The thwarted assassination attempt was never made public.
"It remained top secret except to select members of the US intelligence community."
At the time, there were media reports about the discovery of two bombs, one at Manila airport and another at the venue for the leaders' meeting.
However, they were linked to a communist insurgency in the Philippines rather than as an external attempt to kill the US president.
A spokesman for the Secret Service refused to comment on Prof Gorman's allegations.
Commentators in the US questioned why the Clinton administration would keep quiet about the assassination attempt when it later needed to justify missile attacks on al-Qaeda training bases.
It could also have ramifications for the widely-held assumption that the Bush regime could not have anticipated the September 11 terror attacks.
Ramzi Yousef, the al-Qaeda member who used a truck bomb to attack the World Trade Centre in 1993, has admitted he plotted to assassinate Mr Clinton after fleeing to Manila, but was dissuaded by his high level of security.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described 9/11 mastermind, also lived in the Philippines in the mid-1990s and has admitted he considered trying to kill Mr Clinton.
The president and his national security team have been accused of passing up several opportunities to capture bin Laden and his associates in the 1990s when they were living in Sudan.
Mr Clinton has rejected such claims, insisting he was "obsessed" with the al-Qaeda leader during his time in office.
In the years leading up to the September 11 attacks, al Qaeda was blamed for bombing two US embassies in Africa and attacked the destroyer, the USS Cole.
However, Marisa Porges, a former government counter-terrorism advisor and an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank, said the assassination plot, if true,would suggest al Qaeda was more developed than some thought it was prior to 9/11”.
Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said earlier this month that it was important to capture bin Laden, a goal that some believe has slipped down America's list of priorities in the years since the September 11 attacks.
Prof Gormley’s book, for which he interviewed Mr Clinton three times, focuses mainly on the former president’s pursuit by Ken Starr, the independent counsel.
Mr Starr’s conclusion that Mr Clinton lied during a sworn deposition about his affair with Monica Lewinsky led to the president’s impeachment.
August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008