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Assassination attempt on George W. Bush foiled, suspect arrested

Former President George W. Bush. (Pool photo by Alyssa Pointer/TNS)
May 24, 2022

Federal authorities arrested an Iraqi man on Tuesday in connection to an alleged Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group plot to assassinate former U.S. President George W. Bush.

Forbes first reported the FBI uncovered an alleged plot by an Iraqi man to assassinate Bush on behalf of ISIS. The suspect reportedly plotted to smuggle fellow ISIS members into the U.S. to help him carry out the attack.

Forbes initially declined to report the suspect’s name as he has not been charged, but the U.S. Department of Justice subsequently announced they had arrested the suspect and identified him as 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab. The DOJ is charging Shihab with aiding and abetting in a murder plot.

The FBI uncovered the alleged plot with the help of two confidential informants and by surveilling the Shihab’s account on the Meta-owned WhatsApp messaging platform.

FBI applied for a search warrant against the Iraqi man on March 23 and the search warrant was unsealed in a federal court for Ohio’s Southern District this week. According to the unsealed search warrant, which was shared with Forbes, Shihab wanted to assassinate Bush as retribution for ordering the 2003 invasion of Iraq. According to the warrant, Shihab considered Bush responsible for the deaths of many Iraqi citizens and the fracturing of the country.

According to the warrant, Shihab had been in the U.S. since 2020 and was awaiting an answer on an application for asylum in the U.S.

One of the FBI informants claimed to have offered Shihab some assistance in getting false immigration and identification records. The other informant was a fellow customer of the same smugglers whose help the suspect allegedly plotted to use to sneak assassins into the U.S.

In November of 2021, Shihab told one of the informants — whom Forbes described as an FBI insider — that he belong to a terror cell called “Al-Raed,” (meaning “Thunder”). The suspect told the FBI insider he planned to bring as many as seven members of the cell into the U.S.

Shihab allegedly said the Al-Rael cell was comprised of exiled members of Iraq’s Baath party, which was the political organization of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein before he was deposed after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. The suspect said one of the people he planned to bring into the U.S. was “the secretary of an ISIS financial minister.”

Shihab allegedly asked the informant if he knew how to “obtain replica or fraudulent police and/or FBI identifications and badges” for the plan.

The DOJ said Shihab traveled to Dallas, Texas in February to surveil Bush.

The DOJ said in March, Shihab met with others to look at sample weapons and uniforms for the plot.

It is unclear what additional security measures have been put in place around Bush since the FBI became aware of this alleged assassination plot.

Freddy Ford, chief of staff for the Office of George W. Bush, told Forbes, “President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.”