As the world reeled from the Jordanian Millennium Attacks, the Clinton administration struggled to respond. More Americans had been killed than in the embassy attacks, but the White House held far fewer options. Zarqawi was in the wind, with no known location, or accomplices, the best they had, was that he had left for Pakistan. The Pakistani government was incredibly reluctant to provide the U.S. with any aid, but it was likely that by now he had already moved to Afghanistan. It meant that striking him directly was, for now impossible. His remaining network in Jordan as far as investigations showed was quickly bundled up by the local and state police and the arrest of the American Hijazi (pinned as the bomb maker and chief co-conspirator) provided some cover for the White House but many pushed for further action. Zarqawi’s tenuous Al-Qaida connections, from his time in the Soviet-Afghan war, pushed CIA officials to get Clinton to back another round of strikes aimed at Al-Qaida but Clinton wanted confirmation of their involvement first, which neither the CIA nor FBI was able to find.
The Jordan attacks punctuated the new era of Jihad after the death of Bin-Laden. Zarqawi was now the new face of Islamic terror, and he used his newfound fame to grow his own organisation Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
or simply Jama’at,
aimed at overthrowing the Jordanian monarchy prior to the attack, it now drastically expanded in scope and unlike Atef or Zawahiri he embraced the position and fame and presented a more brutal view of the Islamic Jihad. Jama’at members and Zarqawi were radical Sunnis who saw all other sects of Islam as heresy, making them legitimate targets. It saw the path to a new middle east as a conquest it viewed the Taliban, Al Qaida, and Al-Jihad as moderates. His ultra-radical vision and the devastation of the Jordan attacks created an effective propaganda machine for Jama’at going forward.
President Clinton and King Abdullah II speak on the US-Jordanian anti-terror efforts
The 2nd Chechen war morphed considerably through 2000, as Russian forces step by step dislodged the Chechen fighters from the countryside leaving only the mountainous south and the capital Grozny. The separatists/freedom fighters shifted tactics, away from open fighting toward guerrilla warfare with the only clear objective to raise Russian casualties. Casualties indeed grew, in the month of January, the Russian casualty rate doubled, as convoys and patrols were attacked and helicopters were downed. In February, Russian forces seized hold of Grozny but in its afterburn, the Mujahidin showed their hand embracing the use of suicide bombings to increase the Russian deaths, though public knowledge of the rising cost was severely restricted by the Russian government and media.
The Russians capitalised on the capture of Grozny by appointing a Chechen defector Akhmad Kadyrov head of the transitional government in Chechnya.
Chechen suicide truck bombing aftermath
Al-Jihad and Zawahiri hoped to use the war to train fighters and to boost its image in the Islamic world, his tactic was semi-successful. The conflict, especially in its early conventional stages, was unkind to the volunteers', hundreds were captured or killed in the fall of Grozny but the success came from Al-Jihad’s altered image. The Jordan attacks took western eyes and attention away from Zawahiri, and the public perception of the Chechen conflict tended to paint the group as radical freedom fighters fighting the oppression and brutality of the Russians. Zawahiri was able to leverage this perception to build relations with other (less radical) Islamic groups and gain access to funding and additional membership (so long as Zawahiri remained out of sight). The prime example of Al-Jihad’s change in fortunes was its unusual inroads into the supposed secular Ba’athist Iraq.
Saddam Hussein following the Gulf War and Kurdish uprisings pursued a faith campaign
that involved him courting Islamists in order to both attract radical fighters to his cause and shore up support for him nationally. The campaign involved altering the flag to display God Is Great, the creation of a Quran written in his own blood and adjusting the nation's policies in a more conservative, theocratic direction. Saddam had been especially untrustworthy of Bin Laden and other Al-Qaida operatives but Saddam (just like leaders in Sudan, Afghanistan, and Yemen) believed that after Bin Laden's death, he could control the radicals in Al-Jihad, and should it become necessary he would simply root them out. Saddam (over the heads of his advisors) entered the Islamist fray, hoping to use the movement for his benefit. Zawahiri and Saddam (who had met once in 1993) supposedly entered into an informal agreement that began to open up Iraq as a pseudo-safe haven (though no training or funding was provided by the regime) in return for non-interference and aiding the regime's religious image in return where the two groups objectives overlapped it would lend the other support. Released CIA reports described the relationship akin to that of rival mob bosses, they would cooperate where and when it was required though they remained adversaries. 
Iraqi propaganda depicting Saddam as a committed Muslim, as part of the faith campaign
The attacks in Jordan, despite the 28 dead Americans had little effect on the nation’s politics. When questioned, issues of defence and terrorism were only most important to 5% of voters, far behind economic or social issues.
No candidates felt comfortable politicising the issue of terror. The primaries were mostly unremarkable for the Democratic Party, Vice President Al Gore rolled over his only other primary opponent Senator Bill Bradley winning every state in the process. And while the Republicans had the potential for a battle, it slimmed down when the Governor of Texas, George W Bush (son of former president George H W Bush) was able to rally the party bosses, allowing him to dominate the polls and fundraising. His strongest competitor, Arizona Senator John McCain ran a strong race able to appeal to moderates and independence, winning him New Hampshire. But the Bush team fought hard in South Carolina to stall McCain’s momentum, the race got dirty, accusations of McCain fathering a child out of wedlock, being a homosexual or even a “Manchurian candidate
” (alluding to McCains time as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam) were raised to aid Bush's campaign. It worked, Bush won the state and wrapped up the Republican nomination neatly with little further issue.
Democratic candidate Al Gore (left) and Republican candidate George Bush (right)
The general election campaign also focused on domestic issues, though at times the Republicans took swipes at the Clinton administration's foreign affairs claiming that policies regarding Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan would be different under a Bush administering little was substantival promised. The closest terror came to a public issue was late in the campaign when Bush's Vice Presidential candidate former Secretary of Defence Dick Cheney said that “Those kinds of attacks would not occur if George W Bush were president”
. Even in the debates terrorism failed to be brought up once. The polls predicted a tight race with Bush and Gore bouncing back and forth often within the margin of error.
Unlike the previous 2 elections, there was no strong third-party candidate, Ross Perot’s Reform Party had split and what remained had been taken over by the radical right. The strongest third-party candidate was Ralph Nader of the progressive green party which attracted a decent sum of support occasionally polling above 5 per cent. Nader declared that the two candidates Gore and Bush were too similar, calling them 'Tweedledee' and 'Tweedledum' i
n a large rally in Maddison Square Garden where Nader criticised U.S. Foreign policy in Iraq, and the Al-Shifa strike alongside a red carpets worth of celebrities.
As the results of the 2000 US election came in on November 7th, the election was closer than anybody could have predicted. In terms of the popular vote, Gore was in the lead but the electoral college held the final say. By the end of the night, three states were left uncalled Wisconsin, Oregon, and Florida but regardless of the others Florida would decide the election. Finally, late on November 7th, the networks called it for Gore. Only three hours later, to retract the call and branded the state once again as undecided. 4 hours later the networks called it for Bush which prompted Gore to privately phone his concession, however, only 2 hours after that call, the reporters again retracted the previous declaration and placed it back again into the undecided column. Bush had a lead of just over 2000 votes but as the final ballots came in it dwindled and dwindled and dwindled. Gore retracted his concession and Americans awoke unsure who the next president would be and remained unsure for a while.
Chicago Sun-Times releases 4 separate headlines in the immediate aftermath of the 2000 election.
Bush held the majority by the slimmest of margins only (823) votes enough to trigger a recount, the automatic machine recount reduced Bush’s margin to 302. Both campaigns hired legal aid to help their fights. Gore’s team pushed for manual recounts in specific precincts while Bush fought against any recounts, but time was an important factor. State law gave them only a few days to certify recounted results which would be impossible to do in a manual recount, so Gore sued to extend. While the Bush team sued against the procedure as a violation of the 14th amendment which guaranteed equal protection under the law and viewed a partial recount as illegal.
The recount was heavily disputed and drew most media attention as all through November, ballots were individually litigated. Republican staffers organised an effective riot at a Florida recount facility when hundreds of people wearing corporate attire violently attempted to force their way into the building and a few were injured. The Brooks Brothers riot
organised by Republicans succeeded in stopping the recount in the precinct as the deadline made it impossible to complete.
(Left) an inspection of ballots (Right) the so-called Brooks Brothers riot
An In-depth analysis found many issues with the election in Florida, confusing ballots, improperly sent overseas ballots and all manner of incomplete ballots were scrutinised. Many Democrats viewed the actions of Florida Republicans as a deliberate effort to hand Bush the presidency the governor was Jeb Bush the candidate’s brother and the Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (in charge of submitting the states election certification) was co-chair of the Bush campaign in Florida, who despite the incomplete recounts certified the Florida election with Bush in the lead by only a 393 vote lead. The Florida supreme court (comprised mostly of Democrats) on December 8th ruled for a full recount of all non-machine ballots a long process. But the next day, the Supreme Court (comprised mostly of Republicans) halted all recounts citing 'irreparable harm'
, and the possibility of a 'needless cloud'
over Bush. Following oral arguments, the court released its decision, a 5-4 partisan majority in favour of halting the recount citing that it would be impossible to finish a recount in the established timeframe. It meant that the original certification would stand, and Bush would win the state and the election. Many derided the Supreme Court decision as partisan. TV Host Jon Stewart's comedic Daily Show mocked the ruling in his 'Indecision 2000' special “It’s official Bush has won Florida by a 5 to 4 majority”
Gore conceded the election in a public speech on December 12th "for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.”
Becoming the fourth candidate to lose a Presidential election despite winning the popular vote and the first since 1888. President-Elect Bush spoke as well “The President of the United States is the President of every single American, of every race and every background. Whether you voted for me or not, I will do my best to serve your interests, and I will work to earn your respect. Thank you and good night. May God bless America.”
Vice President Al Gore concedes the 2000 election
2000 Election WikiBox
George W Bush, the 43rd President of the United States
 This is essentially what Clinton's reaction was to the USS Cole bombing (averted in TTL) and there the US had way more reasons to point the blame at Al-Qaeda. I see no reason why Clinton would have a different reaction.
 The increased number of volunteers from hundreds to thousands boosts Russian casualties and resistance cohesion but is not enough to turn back the Russians.
 This is a change, the Bush administration's claims about Saddam's Al-Qaeda connections are overhyped and mostly false, to say the least. But it's clear that Saddam was totally willing to drop the path of secularism so long as it kept him in charge. Here Saddam spies an opportunity to bolster his own regime and image while still holding the option to cut them all loose.
 A true statistic
The election pretty much goes OTL with a slightly butterflied final vote count, as I previously mentioned anything could have altered the 2000 election but given how little time Americans had to learn the name Bin Laden, his death means little to them and is overshadowed by the deadlier Jordan attacks and Monika Lewinsky meaning Americans feel mostly the same in terms of terror and defence. Plus I think the US’s actions would end up attracting more support to Nader than Gore. Anyway, just thought I should explain my reasoning, see you next time.