ISIS operative in U.S. plotted to assassinate George W. Bush, FBI alleges

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An Iraqi citizen who entered the U.S. in September 2020 allegedly plotted to kill George W. Bush, even traveling to Dallas to surveil the former president’s home, according to an FBI search warrant affidavit obtained by NBC News.

The FBI alleges that Shihab Ahmed Shihab, of Columbus, Ohio, wanted to provide material support to the Islamic State terrorist group, telling a confidential FBI source that he wanted to smuggle people into the country “to murder former President George W. Bush” because he held him responsible for killing numerous Iraqis in the 2003 invasion of the country.

Forbes first reported the alleged plot. NBC News was not immediately able to find a representative of Shihab, who is in custody, to comment for this article.

According to the search warrant application, the FBI is considering charges of threats against a former president, material support to ISIS and visa fraud.

The FBI says Shihab entered the U.S. legally and then applied for political asylum while also trying to marry a U.S. woman to secure his immigration status. The documents say the investigation initially began as an immigration or visa fraud case and morphed into something allegedly more sinister.

According to the filings, Shihab made claims to a confidential FBI source that he drove a transport vehicle with bombs in Iraq and had an association with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Bahgdadi, who was killed by the U.S. in 2019.

In June, Shihab allegedly told a confidential source that he would pay at least $5,000 to smuggle four former Baath party members located in Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and Denmark into the U.S. Once the men were in the U.S., their plan was to obtain firearms and a large van with a sliding door to carry out the assassination.

“Further, Shihab stated that he wanted to be involved in the actual attack and assassination of former President Bush and did not care if he died as he would be proud to have been involved in killing former President Bush,” the FBI affidavit says.

The suspect allegedly conducted surveillance in Dallas on Feb. 8, which included a trip to Bush’s residence, and took videos of the gate in front of Bush’s neighborhood.

Shihab allegedly told a confidential FBI source that two of the potential members of the plot were ex-Iraqi intelligence agents. One of the Iraqi nationals was the secretary of an ISIS financial minister, the documents also say.

The suspect told one of the confidential sources that he planned to use a car dealership in Columbus, Ohio, as a "hawala" to funnel the money from the U.S. to the ISIS financial minister’s secretary, the documents say.

The FBI says it worked with Customs and Border Protection to gather telephone information, perform trap-and-trace analyses of phone calls, and conduct physical surveillance, all while having multiple confidential sources engage with the suspect, including one who has been working with the FBI for over 10 years.