Iraqi accused of plot to assassinate former President Bush inexplicably waives right to detention hearing

An Iraqi national living in Ohio was arrested and charged on May 24 over his alleged role in a plot to smuggle Islamic State group-linked terrorists into the United States through Mexico to assassinate former President George W. Bush in retaliation for his launch of the 2003 Iraq War.

That suspect, 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, inexplicably waived his right to a detention hearing on Thursday and will remain in federal custody, for the time being, ABC News reported.

Shihab had been set for a detention hearing before a federal judge on Friday, but a Thursday court filing by Shihab’s public defender waiving the defendant’s right to that hearing negated the need for it to be held as scheduled.

No further details or explanations were given for the waiver and the public defender did not respond to requests for comment from the media outlet.

A foiled plot to assassinate former President Bush

It was on Tuesday that the Justice Department announced that Shihab had been arrested and charged with attempting to illegally bring another individual into the U.S. as well as with aiding and abetting the attempted murder of a former government official. If convicted, Shihab could face up to 30 years in federal prison in addition to steep fines.

Shihab is alleged to have entered the U.S. legally in 2020 on a visitor’s visa and had formally filed an asylum application in 2021, which remains pending. Meanwhile, he lived and worked multiple jobs in both Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana.

He is alleged to have worked with and accepted money from a pair of separate individuals he believed to be involved in human smuggling operations — both were actually confidential sources for the FBI — and arranged to have a fictitious Iraqi national with links to terrorism smuggled into the U.S. as a sort of “test run” ahead of his broader assassination plot.

That plot, which involved Shihab personally conducting surveillance of the former president’s residence in Texas as well as efforts to procure illegal weapons and Border Patrol uniforms as disguises, also involved at least four more Iraqi terrorists being smuggled into the U.S. through Mexico to conduct the operation before being smuggled back out through Mexico.

Retaliation for the Iraq War

The Associated Press reported that the reason behind Shihab’s plot was a desire to seek vengeance against former President Bush for the many deaths of Iraqi citizens that occurred as a result of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” which began in 2003.

It was noted that despite the preparations Shihab had made, the plot was never close to being materialized, no individuals entered the country illegally as part of the plot, and the former president was never in any real danger.

Indeed, Bush’s chief of staff, Freddy Ford, said in a statement, “President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.”

Following Shihab’s arrest Tuesday, he was immediately taken before a federal magistrate judge and ordered held without bond until a detention hearing that was scheduled for Friday, but now that that hearing has been waived by Shihab’s public defender, it is unclear if or when he will get a chance to argue for the possibility of bond or release pending trial.

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