Tags: Al-Qaeda | 'Attempted | Kill | Clinton'

Al-Qaeda 'Attempted to Kill Clinton'

Monday, 04 February 2002 12:00 AM

Specific references to Clinton were found among handwritten notes and sketches of U.S. Secret Service protective methods recovered from the Shomali compound near Kabul where al-Qaeda terrorists received training in assassination and hostage taking. "We have attempted to kill Clinton, but failed," documents in Arabic released exclusively to United Press International on Monday state. Although the text indicates the attack was planned around some high-level conference or international summit, it does not mention a date. Analysts in Kabul believe the attempt was planned about two years ago.

Nor does the text reveal whether the plan was abandoned or had failed in some other way.

An American security expert in Kabul believes Osama bin Laden's group might have been thinking of a second attack on the former president, this time during a golf tournament.

"The documents clearly list how presidential protective details are structured, what they do and what vulnerabilities to look for," said Keith Indema, an American security adviser to the Afghan Interim Administration who has analyzed captured al-Qaeda records, including graphic terrorist training videotapes recently aired on CBS's "60 Minutes” television program.

"Al-Qaeda studied the strong points and weak points of Secret Service protection, concluding that streets and open areas are the best locations for a presidential assassination," added the former member of the U.S. Army's crack counter terrorist team, Delta Force. An al-Qaeda assassination manual includes a study of U.S. presidential protection.

"Bodyguards always watch the crowd around the principal, instead of watching him," said one passage that concluded a relaxed, open setting would be the ideal environment for an attack. Another part of the text analyzes the sequence of vehicles in presidential motorcades, noting the heavily-armed reaction teams go behind the presidential limousine.

"The terrorists could decide to take out the reaction team's vehicle first in order to encircle the president's car," Indema said.

High-level assassinations using mock-ups of city streets and golf courses were among the operations most frequently practiced at the Shomali camp, which was discovered virtually intact after the collapse of the Taliban regime. The 4-square-mile compound, where al-Qaeda's most hardened teams trained in urban guerrilla tactics borrowed from Israeli, British and American special forces, was never hit by U.S. air strikes because satellite intelligence failed to spot it.

Indema observed al-Qaeda did not train with sniper rifles or silenced weapons, preferring the shock effect of an ambush using heavy-duty weapons, like rocket launchers and machine guns. Their preference for spectacular assaults was demonstrated Sept. 11 when the terrorist network crashed hijacked airliners into New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In one sequence of the al-Qaeda videos, the group conducts a mock assault on a golf tournament, pulling weapons out of golf bags to fire on a group of "players."

"This was very possibly a preparation for the attempt on Clinton, whose golf weekends were well known," Indema said. There was no indication in the available documents Clinton specifically was being targeted, however. At the very least, Indema pointed out, the mock assault was indicative "of al-Qaeda's understanding of the Western mind-set. The group knows where our VIPs tend to congregate and are most vulnerable."

Other security experts also noted training exercises involved urban hit-and-run ambushes using pickup trucks and motorcycles. One taped sequence shows a two-man team on a motorcycle attacking a moving motorcade with explosives while another team opens fire from the back of an open van. Other secret training consisted of a mock raid on a U.S. embassy in which the American flag is burned.

The captured documents also included a codebook apparently used by bin Laden to give instructions to his international network by quoting select phrases from the Koran. For example, "Allah-u-Akbar" - "God is great” - uttered at a certain point on a televised videotape could mean "lie low."

Although al-Qaeda might be dispersed and under too much pressure to mount a major attack against President Bush or other Western leaders, the network could be reorganizing into urban guerrilla cells around the world. Terrorism experts said the group could revert to urban guerrilla tactics, such as kidnappings, used in the past by such organizations as Italy's Red Brigades or Spain's Basque separatist guerrillas.

In Afghanistan, the United States might claim its air war has eliminated terrorist strongholds, but in reality, large remnants of the group are hidden throughout the country, often with the assistance of warlords. Afghan officials also fear al-Qaeda could use its expertise at penetrating VIP protection to strike closer to home, targeting Afghanistan's Interim Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai or other members of Karzai's Cabinet.

Lacking any adequately trained national security service, Karzai relies on the British Royal Marines counter-terrorist unit, the so-called Special Boat Service, for his protection. The SBS team, which stays close to Karzai around the clock, arrived in Kabul at the time of the interim government's swearing-in ceremony in December.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Specific references to Clinton were found among handwritten notes and sketches of U.S. Secret Service protective methods recovered from the Shomali compound near Kabul where al-Qaeda terrorists received training in assassination and hostage taking. We have attempted...
Monday, 04 February 2002 12:00 AM
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