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DOJ Arrests Iraqi Man For Alleged Plot to Assassinate George W Bush

Former President George W. Bush waves to the crowd during a game between SMU and Cincinnati on March 3, 2022. GEORGE WALKER/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES
Former President George W. Bush waves to the crowd during a game between SMU and Cincinnati on March 3, 2022. GEORGE WALKER/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES

An Iraqi citizen living in Ohio was arrested Tuesday and charged with participating in a plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush, the Department of Justice announced, after a federal investigation into the alleged plot was first reported by Forbes on Tuesday.

The DOJ alleged that 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab of Columbus planned to illegally bring four Iraqi nationals into the United States to assassinate Bush, in a purported act of retribution for Iraqi deaths during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country.

After the planned assassination, prosecutors said Shihab intended to smuggle the four Iraqi nationals out of the country through the U.S.-Mexico border.

Shihab allegedly traveled to Dallas in February to conduct reconnaissance of locations associated with Bush, and he purportedly met with other people at a hotel in Columbus to look at firearms and law enforcement uniforms, the DOJ said in a press release.

The department alleged that Shihab in 2021 agreed to bring a different Iraqi citizen into the U.S. for $40,000 in a fictitious people-smuggling operation that was in fact set up by the FBI.

An attorney representing Shihab did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shihab entered the U.S. in 2020 on a visitor visa and in 2021 applied for U.S. citizenship as an asylum-seeker, and has lived in both Columbus and Indianapolis, where he was employed at markets and restaurants, the DOJ said.

The FBI investigation into Shihab’s case was first reported by Forbes. In a search warrant application filed in March and unsealed this week, the FBI claimed that Shihab had links to the Islamic State—frequently known as ISIS—and wanted to kill Bush because he believed the former president was responsible for deaths caused by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. According to the application, the alleged plot included surveillance of Bush’s residence and the George W. Bush Institute, both in Dallas. The FBI said it discovered the alleged plot using two confidential informants and through surveillance of WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging app where the plot was ostensibly coordinated. In a conversation with an informant, Shihab purportedly claimed he was in touch with a former Saddam Hussein regime official based in Qatar who had access to “large quantities of money,” the FBI said. The FBI also claimed that Shihab told an informant that he had smuggled into the country two people associated with the Islamist militant group Hezbollah.

Shihab has been charged with attempting to illegally bring an individual into the U.S. and with aiding and abetting the attempted murder of a former U.S. official, which carry maximum prison sentences of 10 years and 20 years, respectively, if he is convicted.

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