WASHINGTON — A man accused of being a member of the Islamic State has collaborated in a plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush in retaliation for waging war on Iraq, the FBI said Tuesday.
Law enforcement officers said they arrested an Iraqi citizen living in Columbus, Ohio, Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, 52, and charged him with complicity in a plot to assassinate Mr. Bush, going so far as to plot to force undocumented immigrants into the country. to smuggle in. United States to carry out the assassination.
mr. Shihab was also charged with committing an immigration offence. The FBI’s search warrant application called Shihab a self-proclaimed “soldier awaiting instructions from the Qatari leadership.” And he claims that he intended to provide material support to the Islamic State.
Mr Shihab was not immediately available for comment.
The Justice Department’s case against him, as detailed in court documents, was based in part on information gathered by two undercover informants, one of whom has worked for the FBI for more than a decade.
The case could be a reset for the Justice Department, which recently lost a case that relied on informants to support allegations that four men plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Defense attorneys pointed to the FBI and its informants to bolster their argument that their clients were being encouraged to agree to a plan they would not otherwise have undertaken. The jury acquitted two of the men and could not reach a verdict on the others.
Shihab told an FBI informant he “didn’t care if he died because he’d be proud” to be involved in Mr. Bush’s murder, the FBI said in the warrant filed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. court in the southern United States. District of Ohio. He believed that Mr. Bush, who invaded Iraq in 2003, was responsible for the country’s “falling apart” and the deaths of many of its citizens.
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The two informants met Mr. Shihab and secretly recorded their conversations. They also communicated on their phones via the WhatsApp messaging app, and the FBI was issued a warrant for Mr. Shihab’s phone records two months ago.
The informants not only worked with Mr. Shihab on plans to smuggle Iraqi citizens into the United States, but also provided him with cell phones and cell data cards that he used to communicate about those plans, the warrant application said.
An informant told Mr Shihab that he could help him contact organizations that smuggle immigrants into the United States and obtain false immigration and identification documents, according to the warrant’s application.
mr. Shihab told a second undercover informant that he could help him bring undocumented immigrants to the United States, with the help of the first informant.
Late last year, Mr. Shihab told the first informant, who he believed to be a smuggler, that four Iraqi civilians he planned to sneak into the United States were members of ISIS who would help him kill Mr. Bush. murder, according to the warrant request. The men would have to be brought into the country via Brazil.
One of those men was the secretary of an ISIS finance minister, Mr. Shihab told the informant, and he planned to use a car dealership in Columbus to funnel money from the secretary to the United States, according to court documents detailing Mr. Shihab’s interactions with the informant.
Mr. Shihab told the informant that he had connections with ISIS, including working with terrorist groups to kill many Americans in Iraq from 2003 to 2006, and that he transported vehicles and weapons from Syria to Iraq to supply terrorist groups.
He also said he was related to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the man who helped turn Islamic State into a global terrorist network and who died in 2019 after detonating a suicide vest to prevent capture by the US government. dodge.
Shihab asked the informant what kind of security Bush had at his Texas home, and whether four or six people would be enough to carry out the murder, according to court documents. He also asked the informant if he could get fake police or FBI identification badges that could be used as part of the plot.
He also said he was looking for a former Iraqi general who helped the Americans in the Iraq war, and that he and his associates planned to kill him.
Early this year, Mr. Shihab during a meeting secretly recorded by the informant that members of an ISIS unit, including two former Iraqi intelligence agents, were part of the “mission” to assassinate Mr. Bush, and that he would oversee the home of the former president and weapons and vehicles.
In January, fearing the police might be monitoring his communications, Mr. Shihab the informant to destroy his cell phone. The informant took the device and gave it to the FBI
A month later, Mr. Shihab and the informant traveled to Mr. Bush’s Dallas home and the George W. Bush Institute as part of a surveillance mission.
According to court documents, Mr Shihab entered the United States on a visitor visa in September 2020, with the help of a corrupt Iraqi US contractor at the US Embassy.
Six months later, he applied for asylum and US citizenship, intending to bring his family from Iraq to the United States. But he considered marrying a US citizen when he feared his application would be rejected, and he paid for papers falsely saying he had separated from his wife in Iraq, according to the court.
Mr. Shihab worked in markets and restaurants in Columbus and Indianapolis, and he lived in both cities.