Arrest of Islamic State operative over alleged presidential assassination plot reveals terror group remains a threat

A top achievement of former President Donald Trump’s tenure was the near-complete destruction of the Islamic State group and its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria, which significantly reduced the global threat posed by the once-dominant international terrorist organization.

The group appears to have experienced a resurgence and been emboldened, however, as evidenced by the arrest of an alleged Islamic State-linked operative over a foiled plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush, WNG reported.

That operative, 52-year-old Iraqi national Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, allegedly attempted to smuggle a team of Islamic State-linked terrorists into the U.S. through Mexico in order to kill the former president in retaliation for the many Iraqi deaths caused by Bush’s 2003 Iraq War.

The assassination plot, according to the FBI

The Justice Department announced the arrest of Shihab on May 24 and revealed that he had been charged with two federal felonies — attempting to illegally bring another individual into the U.S. as well as aiding and abetting the attempted murder of a former government official, charges that could land him behind bars for up to 30 years if convicted.

Shihab was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, where he lived and worked in addition to Indianapolis, Indiana. He had first come to the U.S. on a visitor’s visa in 2020 but had applied for asylum in 2021 and had remained in the country while that application was pending.

In an exclusive report published just prior to Shihab’s arrest, Forbes had shared some of the details of the alleged assassination plot as laid out in a copy of the FBI’s search warrant application filed in March that it had somehow obtained.

That document revealed how Shihab had been done in by a pair of FBI informants who had helped the operative make the necessary arrangements to bring his plot to fruition.

Those arrangements included obtaining false immigration documents and a plan for the terrorist team to arrive in Mexico, be smuggled into the U.S. to kill the former president, then be smuggled back into Mexico once the deed was done. Also in furtherance of the plot, Shihab himself conducted surveillance of Bush’s Texas residence and made arrangements to obtain illegal weapons and Border Patrol uniforms to serve as disguises for the assassins.

Points to ponder

WNG noted that this foiled plot shows that, while certainly weakened, the Islamic State group continues to pose a threat and remains intent on striking the U.S., which it views as a “Christian nation” and mortal enemy of Islam.

Particularly striking in the document were Shihab’s claims to have helped kill American soldiers in Iraq, that he had already helped smuggle in members of the Hezbollah terror outfit, that he was related to deceased Islamic State commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and that at least one alleged member of his team of assassins was formerly the secretary of the Islamic State’s finance minister — all of which should have, presumably, barred his entry into the U.S. in the first place and disqualified him from consideration for asylum.

“This development also highlights the truth that terrorists are aware of the vulnerability of our southern border and know how to manipulate U.S. asylum programs,” WNG reported.

The outlet concluded: “While we should be welcoming as a nation, as we have always been, we should also be vigilant in protecting our borders against those who would exploit our vulnerabilities. Finally, we should all know that ISIS might have been weakened, but its ideology and religious appeal are not dead. Shihab Ahmed Shihab has made that truth absolutely clear.”

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