WASHINGTON, June 22: The Central Intelligence Agency had received intelligence that Al Qaeda was planning to assassinate former US president Bill Clinton on his 2000 trip to Pakistan and Bangladesh , but he made the trip anyway over the strong objections of the secret service, Mr Clinton says in his memoirs, which went on sale on Tuesday.
The ex-president also says in the book, My Life", that in 1998 he had suggested sending US commandos to Afghanistan to go after the Al Qaeda network but the idea was greeted coolly by the military.
About the threat to his life, Bill Clinton said that as he prepared to visit Pakistan and Bangladesh "the CIA had intelligence that indicated Al Qaeda wanted to attack me on one of those stops, either on the ground or during takeoffs or landings".
But Mr Clinton decided to go ahead with the trip since he was already going to India and couldn't skip the Muslim countries, "and because I didn't want to give in to a terrorist threat".
The former president also described how his administration had to tread delicately around Pakistan, whose intelligence services he accused of having ties to Al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan.
US officials did not want to give Pakistan advance notice of the 1998 missile attack on Afghanistan because they feared the latter would alert Al Qaeda, Mr Clinton said.
But the ex-president said then deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott "was afraid that if we didn't tell the Pakistanis, they might assume the flying missiles had been launched at them by India, and retaliate, conceivably even with nuclear weapons".
The problem was solved by organizing a dinner with Pakistan's military commander at the time of the attack and informing him minutes before the missiles flew, according to the memoirs.
OSAMA: Mr Clinton said he had told his successor, President George Bush, that Al Qaeda was the United States' top security threat and the failure to nab Osama bin Laden was his "biggest disappointment".
The book makes it clear Bill Clinton considered sending ground troops to hunt down Osama on at least two occasions before US forces finally went into Afghanistan after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
US forces responded to the African embassy bombings with missile attacks on Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and a chemical plant in Sudan, but Mr Clinton said he also proposed going further. -AFP