The application was filed on March 23 and briefly unsealed this week in the Southern District of Ohio
It describes how the suspect, Shihab Ahmed Shihab, an Iraqi asylum seeker, visited Dallas in November and took video footage of the area around the former president’s home.
The FBI said its evidence came through two confidential informants and surveillance of messages sent to and from the suspect’s WhatsApp account, according to Forbes, which was the first to report on the warrant.
The alleged ISIS member reportedly claimed he wanted to kill Bush because of his role in launching the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The plot, with international links and claims of high-powered connections, sounds sophisticated and far-reaching.
But the reliance on confidential informants – who often themselves face charges and who can earn tens of thousand of dollars for their information – will also trigger concerns that the details will not stand up to scrutiny following the collapse of other high-profile cases.
An FBI search warrant unsealed this week reveals details of an alleged plot by an Iraqi asylum seeker to assassinate former President George W. Bush for launching the 2003 invasion of Iraq
The suspect allegedly plotted to bring in a four-man ISIS kill team to conduct the investigation via Mexico, from where he planned to smuggle them across the border
Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 on the basis of flawed evidence of Saddam Hussein’s weapons program led to the proliferation of terrorist groups including ISIS
One of the informants reportedly offered help to people wanting false immigration and identification documents, while the other allegedly used people smuggling services.
NBC reported that the suspect was in custody on Tuesday.
Freddy Ford, chief of staff for the Office of George W. Bush, told Forbes: ‘President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.’
The warrant reportedly says that the suspect told an informant in November last year of his plot and asked how to ‘obtain replica or fraudulent police and/or FBI identifications and badges’ to help carry out the killing, and whether it was possible to smuggle the plotters back out of the U.S. afterwards.
He also asked the informant for details about security at Bush’s home in Dallas and at his Crawford, Texas, ranch.
He also planned to find and kill a former Iraqi general now living in the U.S. under a new identity after working with American forces during the war.
His plan, according to the warrant, was to use Mexican visitor visas for four Iraqi nationals to enter Mexico before smuggling them over the border.
Shihab said two of them were former Iraqi intelligence agents.
Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, told Forbes: ‘It’s clear this was a sophisticated counterterrorism operation with a lot of moving parts. It was both far reaching and unique in its targeting.
‘It also shows that while the debate on so called ‘going dark’ can be overcome through the use of undercover operatives, it’s labor intensive but possible.’ The term ‘going dark’ is used by law enforcement to describe the inability to get to data that has been encrypted by software applications.
‘Also, we haven’t seen a plot of this scale in a number of years. It shows that while domestic terrorism rightly takes a good amount of counterterrorism focus, the threats are not there alone.’
However, the role of FBI informants is under intense scrutiny after the collapse last year of a trial alleging a plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan.
A jury found two men not guilty and failed to reach a verdict on two other defendants, after their defense argued that they had been entrapped by an undercover operation.
They said the plot was no more than ‘smoke and mirrors,’ the result of profane talk by disillusioned men.
Bush and his invasion of Iraq were back in the headlines last week when he made a very Freudian slip.
During a speech at his George W. Bush Presidential Centre in Dallas, Texas, he condemned the ‘absence of checks and balances’ in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which had allowed ‘one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq.’