The Iraqi national migrated to the US in 2020 and had an asylum application pending.

The suspect, Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, had temporarily settled in Columbus, Ohio where he was arrested. He said he targeted Bush because he blamed the former president for killing Iraqis and breaking apart the country after the 2003 military invasion.

According to Forbes, the FBI said it discovered the plot through two confidential informants and surveillance of the suspect’s WhatsApp account, a messaging platform.

The man was so dedicated to his scheme, he had gone so far as to travel to Bush’s Dallas home to take video and recruited a team of fellow Iraqis he hoped to smuggle over the Mexican border.

Shihab claimed to be part of a group called “Al-Raed” that was led by a former pilot of Saddam Hussein. Allegedly up to seven members of the group would be involved in the assassination plot, and Shihab had been sent in advance “to locate and conduct surveillance on former president Bush’s residences and/or offices and obtain firearms and vehicles to use in the assassination.”

Freddy Ford, chief of staff for the Office of George W. Bush, said, “President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.”

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