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Operation Bojinka and 9-11

Operation Bojinka‘ is a term which refers to a potentially devastating but surprisingly under reported al-Qaeda plan to attack Western targets in January 1995. The operation was at a very advanced stage and would have resulted in the death of at least four thousand people if it had not been thwarted.

The plan itself involved three separate attacks executed by a terrorist cell in Manila: (i) The assassination of Pope John Paul II was the first target, followed by (ii) a plot to destroy eleven airliners using specially prepared bombs, then (iii) a direct strike at the CIA’s headquarters using a plane packed with explosives.

Every aspect of the operation was thoroughly planned. Highly detailed information, maps, timetables, route plans and sophisticated bombs were employed. The cell had even tested their timers and devices twice using smaller devices that were about one tenth of the power of their final bombs.