There are some Iraqi citizens who despise former President George W. Bush and hold him directly responsible for the many Iraqis who died over the course of the Iraq War that began in 2003 under Bush.
Now one such individual has been arrested and charged with attempting to facilitate a terrorist assassination attempt against the former president, Fox News reported.
That arrested Iraqi is identified as 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab and he faces federal charges related to alleged violations of immigration law and of aiding and abetting a plot to kill a former U.S. government official.
Arrested and charged
According to a Justice Department press release, Shihab was arrested Tuesday morning and faced a judge later that afternoon where a charging indictment against him was unsealed.
The release noted that Shihab had initially entered the U.S. on a visitor visa in September 2020 and had remained in the country pending the outcome of an asylum application he had submitted in March 2021. While in the U.S., he lived and worked in both Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
As for his alleged crimes, Shihab is accused of violating immigration laws by accepting money to arrange and facilitate the illegal border crossings of other Iraqi individuals, including those with connections to known terrorist organizations like the Islamic State group — some of whom would be involved in the plot to assassinate former President Bush.
Plot to smuggle in terrorists to assassinate Bush
The 21-page indictment documented Shihab’s alleged crimes in greater detail as well as his communications with two confidential sources for the FBI who provided assistance in certain ways to Shihab. The first source portrayed himself to Shihab as someone connected to a smuggling operation who could help aid illegal crossings while the second source was portrayed as somebody seeking to arrange for others to be smuggled into the U.S.
Shihab accepted up to $40,000 from the second source in order to arrange for the illegal entry of a purported relative from Iraq with ties to terror organizations. Some of that money was then forwarded to the first source to further arrange for the smuggling of the supposed relative, who in actuality was a fictitious character.
Though no actual illegal entry ever occurred, Shihab was led to believe that the “test run” had succeeded, which led to additional plotting to smuggle in several more Iraqi individuals with ties to terrorist groups and the former Saddam Hussein regime who would engage in an assassination attempt against the former president as an act of retaliation for the deaths of Iraqi citizens in “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Arrangements were made by Shihab with the first source to illegally obtain firearms and U.S. Border Patrol uniforms, and personal surveillance of the former president’s Texas residence and office was conducted by Shihab.
Faces up to 30 years if convicted
Shihab was ultimately arrested before that assassination plot could fully transpire, however. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison for attempting to illegally bring another person into the U.S. and up to 20 years in federal prison for attempting to aid and abet the attempted murder of a former government official.
It does not appear that former President Bush was ever in any actual danger and it is unclear if the Secret Service has increased its protective efforts for him. Freddy Ford, chief of staff for Bush’s office, told Fox News, “President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.”