An alleged Islamic State operative in the United States was plotting to kill former President George W. Bush, according to officials.
An unsealed FBI search warrant from March 23 revealed that two confidential informants and surveillance of the suspect's WhatsApp profile reportedly determined that an Ohio man named Shihab Ahmed Shihab wished to kill Bush due to his role in the Iraq War.
"President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities," a spokesperson for the Office of George W. Bush told Forbes.
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Shihab has lived in the U.S. since 2020, was based in Columbus, Ohio, and had an asylum application pending, according to the FBI's documentation. The person claimed to be part of a unit named "al Raed," which was reportedly led by a former Iraqi pilot for Saddam Hussein and operated out of Qatar until the pilot's recent death. There may be up to seven different members of this unit, according to the warrant request. Shihab's identity was kept anonymous in initial reports but was reported by NBC News after he was taken into custody.
The plot to go after Bush was later unveiled after two confidential sources investigated the suspect under the cover of assisting with obtaining falsified immigration documentation.
The alleged ISIS operative went as far as to travel to Dallas in November 2021 to surveil the former president's home and the George W. Bush Institute, according to federal agents.
Shihab also made multiple attempts to recruit colleagues whom he would need to smuggle across the border, the agency said. The suspect apparently revealed to the FBI contact his plot when asked if he knew how to "obtain replica or fraudulent police and/or FBI identifications and badges" for the assassination attempt. He intended to get four Iraqi male citizens who were based in Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Denmark into the U.S., according to the warrant. At least one of these members was "the secretary of an ISIS financial minister." The men were "former Baath Party members in Iraq who did not agree with the current Iraqi government and were political exiles," the suspect told the FBI's source.
Shihab also inquired about the viability of smuggling the suspect's partners out of the country the same way they intended to enter. The plan was to get Mexican visitor visas to get them across the border.
The suspect also reportedly told the FBI source that he intended to assassinate a former Iraqi general who helped Americans in the war and was allegedly living under an alias in the U.S.
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The FBI's surveillance of Shihab included mobile location data provided by AT&T, as well as a "pen register," which allowed the agency to surveil the target's data despite the encrypted nature of WhatsApp's messaging service. The subject was also unaware that he was using a mobile device that the FBI's informant had given him, allowing the federal agency access to his messages. The suspect was active on the app and involved in Baath and ISIS chat groups on the app, according to officials.
A representative from the Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment from the Washington Examiner.