Plot to kill George W Bush in revenge for Iraq War foiled, FBI says

Former US president recently fumbled speech criticising 'unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq'

Former US president George W Bush. AP
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A terrorist plot to assassinate former US president George W Bush in revenge for the Iraq War was uncovered earlier this year, the FBI said in an unsealed search warrant.

Shihab Ahmed Shihab, an Iraqi asylum seeker, described the plan to a paid FBI informant who also drove him around Dallas to conduct surveillance on Mr Bush’s home and offices in February, a March 23 search warrant unsealed last month in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, showed.

The plotters “wished to kill former president Bush because they felt that he was responsible for killing many Iraqis and breaking apart the entire country of Iraq”, FBI Special Agent John Ypsilantis, a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Cincinnati, said in the filing.

The warrant, first reported on Tuesday by Forbes, has been resealed. A representative for the US attorney’s office in Cincinnati declined to comment to Bloomberg. Freddy Ford, a spokesman for Mr Bush did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Citing operational security, Secret Service Special Agent Steve Kopek declined to comment on the matter except to say the “US Secret Service takes all threats to our protectees seriously”.

Four Iraqi citizens, two of whom are ex-intelligence agents, were to be smuggled into the US from Turkey, Egypt and Denmark as part of the plot, the FBI agent said. The plan involved bringing the plotters to Mexico and then crossing the border into Texas, Mr Ypsilantis said.

Though Mr Shihab was not himself an ISIS member, the warrant described the smuggling plot as an “attempt to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation, specifically ISIS”.

Crawford, Texas -- Jan. 10, 2009 -- A sign featuring First Lady Laura Bush (left) and President George W. Bush (right) welcomes visitors to Crawford, Texas. (Mark M. Hancock for The National)

A Columbus resident, Mr Shihab asked the informant for details about security operations at Mr Bush’s home in Dallas and his ranch in Crawford, Texas, the FBI agent said.

In February, the informant picked up Mr Shihab at the airport in Dallas and assisted him as he used his phone to record video of Mr Bush’s gated home as well as the library and offices at the George W Bush Institute, the filing said.

Mr Shihab reportedly told the informant “that he wanted to be involved in the actual attack and assassination” and that he “did not care if he died as he would be proud to have been involved”, the search warrant said.

He also inquired about how to obtain fake FBI or police badges, the agency said. The informant has been supplying information in exchange for money for over 10 years and recorded many of his conversations with Mr Shihab, according to the filing.

Mr Bush last week reignited controversy over the war when he inadvertently transposed “Iraq” for “Ukraine” while criticising Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching a “wholly unjustified and brutal invasion”.

Updated: May 24, 2022, 7:39 PM