President Donald Trump has received numerous assassination threats since he began his term in January 2017, most of which have been merely impotent expressions of partisan rage that are quickly dismissed by the Secret Service as insignificant upon investigation.
But according to a National Geographic special that looked behind the scenes at the Secret Service, there was at least one significant assassination plot against Trump that required swift action by the agency to prevent it from unfolding.
National Geographic’s two-hour presentation, “United States Secret Service: On The Front Lines,” revealed that agents foiled a plot against the president when he traveled to Manila, Philippines, for the ASEAN 50 summit with Asian leaders in November 2017.
ISIS plot in Manila
According to NatGeo, Secret Service learned ahead of the summit about “credible information” regarding an Islamic State group plot to assassinate Trump in Manila.
Utilizing technology to track the suspected assassin’s social media postings, the Secret Service was able to locate and monitor the suspect prior to Trump’s arrival in the Philippines.
The suspected ISIS operative that wanted to kill Trump was ultimately tracked to a park about one mile away from the hotel the president would be staying at in Manila. The Secret Service then contacted the Philippine National Police, who quickly swarmed the operative and took him into custody, bringing a halt to the potentially deadly plot.
Secret Service Special Agent Chad Ragan — who was the Protective Division agent in charge of the trip — explained: “Technology, that was one of the things that was a blessing for us, because we were able to know that he was moving close to us, where he was, and track him. That was a huge piece of stopping the threat.
“Of course, we had a lot of help from the locals — and that’s an essential key to it that can’t be understated, is how great these foreign governments are, or even locals,” Ragan added. “If we go to Topeka, Kansas, the local law enforcement is such a help. We get so much support from the host committee, or the host country.”
Protecting the office, not the person
Ragan served in the Secret Service Protective Division during the Obama administration as well, and without getting into specifics, he insinuated that regardless of who happens to be in office, Secret Service agents handle their jobs in exactly the same manner, as the job is more about protecting the office of the presidency more than the individual who currently occupies it.
“It doesn’t matter if you like the person that’s in office, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like the person that’s in office — the bottom line is you’re not protecting that person, you’re protecting the office and what it stands for. We all believe that,” Ragan said.
He added: “Even though we’re U.S. citizens, have opinions, and talk them over at dinner with our friends or whatnot, work is work… You believe in the mission and the office of the presidency, and that’s one reason that we are able to rise above the politics of it all, because we’re going to protect a Democrat as much as we’re going to protect a Republican as much as we’re going to protect an Independent or Green Party member.”
The American public rarely hears about the assassination plots the Secret Service deals with from time to time, especially ones that are foiled with little notice. Still, it is nice to hear when the agency tasked with protecting the president is on the ball and succeeds in their undoubtedly tough mission.