Former US agent tells how he protected Tiger Woods against terror attack in NZ in 2001

Former US special agent Robert Starnes has told how he protected Tiger Woods from the threat.
Former US special agent Robert Starnes has told how he protected Tiger Woods from the threat. Photo credit: File

A former US special agent has shared how he protected golfer Tiger Woods from a terrorist threat in New Zealand in 2001. 

A cyanide-laced letter threatening a series of suicide attacks on the US golfer when he played at the 2002 New Zealand Open was posted to the US Embassy in 2001.

Mr Woods was playing at the event as a favour to his Kiwi caddie, Steve Williams. 

Former United States Department of State Diplomatic Security Service special agent Robert Starnes told how he was the first security attache to be permanently posted to New Zealand, Stuff reports. 

He oversaw all threat letters. 

Mr Starnes told Stuff that in his new book Dictators and Diplomats: A Special Agent's Memoir and Musings, the author of the letter expressed that New Zealand's security for the tournament was slack and Mr Woods represented suppression in the US and exploitation of Islamic people from Southeast Asia.

The letter claimed suicide attacks could be expected against Tiger Woods and New Zealand citizens via fire bombings, train derailments, and poisoning the tournament's spectators," he said.

"If you don't believe what I'm saying, go ahead and put the contents of this sugar packet in your coffee," the author said.

Cyanide was concealed inside the sugar packet.

The author claimed to be a "enemy of America, the Great Satan as well as the Israeli regime and claimed allegiance to Islamic Jihad," Mr Starnes told Stuff

The threat lead to police forking out $500,000 to ramp up security at the open.

Mr Starnes said the threats outlined in the letter were not uncommon for US embassies to receive, but the particular concern was that the desired act of violence against Mr Woods and New Zealand citizens. This was concerning for both the United States and New Zealand governments. 

A scientist who represented the New Zealand police said the substance in the sugar packet had tested positive for potassium cyanide. 

Police and military personnel abandoned all scheduled leave in order to enhance protection at the open, Mr Starnes told Stuff

The offender was never identified or captured.