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Clear & Present Danger

Operatives of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) attempted to assassinate Donald Trump when the president was in Manila, Philippines, last year, but were stopped by Secret Service agents.

In November 2017, Trump was in the city for the Association of South East Asian Nations’ ASEAN 50 Summit, where he met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, when the botched assassination effort took place. The planned killing was previously kept under wraps until National Geographic disclosed it during Sunday’s two-hour television special about the Secret Service, United States Secret Service: On the Front Line.

According to the report, threats were being made online against Trump even before he arrived in Manila. One tweet read, “Gonna be in Manila the same time as Trump.… I’ll take one for the team lads.” The post also featured a mug shot of Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

Before Trump arrived in the Philippines, ISIS also released a series of videos with threatening messages for the president. One featured a picture of Trump with numerous bullet holes, accompanied by a message telling operatives to “lie in wait” and “ambush” him. On the person’s Instagram account, Secret Service agents found a photo of him holding the book How to Kill: The Definitive History of the Assassin.

Agents then discovered that one jihadi was hiding out in downtown Manila, just blocks from the hotel where the president was staying. When the discovery was made by the Secret Service, Trump was about 20 minutes from landing in the country on Air Force One.

The agents tracked down the ISIS operative in a park approximately 1 mile away from Trump’s hotel. The operative was meeting with an “associate” when Secret Service members apprehended them.

The Philippines became an attraction for ISIS after jihadis started being forced out of Middle Eastern countries. Last year, the group stormed and held the Philippine city of Marawi last year, killing more than 1,100 people and displacing hundreds of thousands more. After ISIS controlled Marawi for five months, Duterte’s forces drove out the militants and declared the city safe in October 2017, a month before Trump’s arrival in Manila.

The failed assassination attempt in Manila is not the first threat against Trump intercepted by the Secret Service. Earlier this month, agents confirmed that they confiscated a “suspicious envelope” addressed to the president. The agency said it was investigating the matter.

Two pieces of mail addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump contained a substance suspected to be ricin, it has been reported. The mail that arrived on Monday was connected to similar envelopes previously sent to the Pentagon.

A Secret Service spokesman told CNN: "The envelope was not received at the White House, nor did it ever enter the White House.”

It was also revealed earlier on Tuesday that envelopes addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson had also tested positive for ricin but were intercepted before they got into the Defense headquarters.

A source familiar with the investigation told the broadcaster that White House and Pentagon letters were connected.

A Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Rob Manning, said the mail delivery facility is on the Pentagon grounds but not in the main building where the defense secretary is based.

Colonel Manning said all U.S. Postal Service mail received at the Pentagon screening facility was under quarantine and posed no threat to Pentagon personnel.

Ricin is a highly toxic compound extracted from castor beans that can be used in powder, pellet, mist or acid form. If ingested, it causes nausea, vomiting, internal bleeding and death by collapse of the circulatory system.

“It’s one of the few poisons that’s actually found in significant quantities in nature,” Peter Chai, a medical toxicologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told The Verge.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was no known antidote. The most important factor, it said, was getting the ricin off or out of the body quickly and providing medical care to reduce effects of poisoning, such as assisting in breathing or flushing a person's stomach.

A ricin-tipped umbrella was infamously used to kill the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in 1978.

The substance found at the White House is thought to be crude castor bean concoction that could not be technically called ricin until further testing.

The letters had messy handwriting on the envelopes with at least one containing an index card with writing that read "Jack the missile bean" and "Stock powder."

Plane carrying First Lady Melania Trump forced to turn around after it fills with smoke on way to Philadelphia


Smoke and a burning smell on First Lady Melania Trump's flight to Philadelphia Wednesday forced her plane to head back to Maryland air base. (Luca Bruno / AP)

First Lady Melania Trump’s airplane was forced to return to Joint Base Andrews after a burning smell and smoke filled the cabin as it traveled to Philadelphia Wednesday morning.

Reporters on the plane were told the change in route was the result of “mechanical issues,” according to a press pool report. A crew member said the problem stemmed from a “malfunctioning comms unit” but the White House has not confirmed it was the cause.

“Everything is fine, and everyone is safe,” Trump spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told media on the scene.

About 10 minutes after takeoff, reporters watched several Secret Service officers hop out of their seats and make their way to the front of the plane. A few moments later, there was a “thin haze of smoke” in the cabin and an intense burning smell, according to reports.

Passengers were brought wet towels and told to put them over their faces should the odor become too strong.

The plane touched down safely in Maryland around 9 a.m. and photos from the scene show the First Lady calmly leaving the aircraft. Reporters on the flight said smoke dissipated fairly quickly after the plane landed.

A Health and Human Services spokeswoman told WPVI Trump is awaiting another aircraft and that she will still travel to Philadelphia, where she’s expected meet with families of children affected by exposure to opioids while in the womb.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is also slated to join her on a trip Wednesday to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, which has provided care to children and mothers with opioid use disorder for nearly 50 years.

The First Lady is also scheduled to tour a neonatal intensive care nursery and speak at a Health Department conference on a new system designed to track infants suffering from opiate withdrawal.

When Trump did finally arrive at her destination, a small crowd gathered among the press vans and awaited her motorcade, according to press pool reports.

One woman held up a sign that read “Melania Leave Philly!” while others led chants including “Shame on you, Melania!” and “Families belong together!”

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