According to an FBI document obtained by Forbes, the would-be assassin traveled to Dallas last year, filmed video footage of Mr Bush’s house, and sought out potential co-conspirators to smuggle into the United States.
The Department of Justice later confirmed these details in a press release, identifying the suspect as Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, 52. He was arrested on Tuesday morning and charged with “aiding and abetting a plot to murder former United States President George W Bush,” the DOJ said.
Mr Shihab has not been convicted of any wrongdoing, and is presumed innocent until proven guilty. At press time, it was not immediately clear who, if anyone, was representing him in court.
According to Forbes, the story of the plot – and how it was foiled – is laid out in an FBI application for a search warrant. The heavily redacted document alleges that starting in November 2021, Mr Shihab worked to recruit “six or seven people for this mission,” forming a death squad he called “Al-Raed.”
“[Redacted] stated that once a new leader was selected for ‘Al-Raed’ they would continue to plan for the ‘mission’ to assassinate former president Bush,” the application says. “[Redacted] advised that part of his [redacted] role in the mission will be to locate and conduct surveillance on former president Bush’s residences and/or offices and obtain firearms and vehicles to use in the assassination.”
Mr Shihab allegedly used WhatsApp to recruit accomplices and clue them into his plans. Unbeknownst to him, two of the people he conversed with were FBI informants.
As he unknowingly explained to the informants, he would need money, a van with sliding doors, and “firearms that would be able to penetrate a vehicle.” The informants assured him that buying these things was possible.
In addition, Mr Shihab reportedly explained, he would need visas for his co-conspirators to visit Mexico. From there, he would arrange for them to be smuggled across the border into the US.
In November last year, Mr Shihab – who lived in Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana– allegedly traveled with one of the informants to Dallas, Texas. There he reportedly scoped out Mr Bush’s home and the George W Bush Institute, filming videos of both.
In December 2021, the FBI says, Mr Shihab claimed he had successfully brought two agents of Hezbollah, a militant Islamic group that many countries have declared a terrorist organization, into the US.
According to the DOJ, Mr Shihab’s motive was revenge for the Iraq War, which the Bush administration launched in 2003. Mr Shihab orchestrated the plot, the department said, “for the purpose of killing former President George W Bush in retaliation of Iraqi deaths during ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom.’”
In a statement, Mr Bush’s office expressed the former president’s gratitude toward the FBI.
“President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities,” Mr Bush’s chief of staff, Freddy Ford, told Forbes.
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