Somali terrorists threatened Obama's life on inauguration

Somali terrorists threatened Obama's life on inauguration

Barack Obama and his security detail were dealing with a hitherto undisclosed assassination threat during his historic inauguration: Somali terrorists crossing over from Canada.

The disclosure is contained in a New York Times magazine story that was set to be published later but was rushed onto the web in the wake of the holiday underwear bomber.

Here is a more succinct summary of the situation from the Globe and Mail:

The threat of Somali terrorists crossing the Canada-U.S. border set off a powerful, if short-lived, panic that threatened to derail U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration a year ago this month.

According to The New York Times Magazine, these fears culminated in a high-level debate about how to swear in a president faced with an imminent threat. Ultimately, it was decided to go ahead with the ceremony, while keeping the U.S. Defence Secretary in a secure location so that he could take over in case al-Qaeda-inspired terrorists blew up the President.

It's important to note that there was never any real threat to Obama's life, as the tip turned out to be false:

The panic caused by the threat was real enough, even though the plot itself was soon determined to be bogus. After the inauguration the intelligence was discounted as a false alarm, the stuff of a "poison pen" tip from sources with an axe to grind.

... Somalia is notorious for its feuding clans, and intelligence officials say "poison pen" tips can make it difficult to distinguish between real threats and fake ones.

But this is one more reason why Somalis are getting extra airport security checks.

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