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An Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) linked operative planned to assassinate former President George W. Bush in Dallas, according to a Tuesday report from Forbes.
An FBI search warrant application filed on March 23 and unsealed this week revealed that the alleged operative from Iraq took video at the former commander-in-chief’s home and the George W. Bush Institute. He also sought help from a team of compatriots he reportedly wanted to smuggle across the Mexican border.
The alleged plot occurs despite ISIS’ influence declining after a series of military defeats before resurging up into 2022. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the organization in December 2017, and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself during a 2019 raid approved by former President Donald Trump.
“The FBI said it uncovered the scheme through the work of two confidential informants and surveillance of the alleged plotter’s account on the Meta-owned WhatsApp messaging platform,” Forbes reported. “The alleged ISIS operative, based in Columbus, Ohio, said he wanted to assassinate Bush because he felt the former president was responsible for killing many Iraqis and breaking apart the country after the 2003 U.S. military invasion, according to the warrant.”
Forbes added that the alleged operative had been in the United States since 2020 and had a pending asylum application. According to the warrant, the operative also asked one of the confidential sources how he could “obtain replica or fraudulent police and/or FBI identifications and badges” and investigated whether it was possible to help his compatriots escape back into Mexico after the killing.
“The alleged plotter claimed to be part of a unit called ‘Al-Raed,’ meaning ‘Thunder,’ that was led by a former Iraqi pilot for Saddam Hussein who had been based out of Qatar until his recent death, the warrant said,” Forbes continued. “As many as seven members of the group would be sent to the U.S. to kill President Bush, according to a conversation described in the warrant, and the suspect’s job was ‘to locate and conduct surveillance on former president Bush’s residences and/or offices and obtain firearms and vehicles to use in the assassination.’”
The New York Times reported earlier this year that ISIS is quickly upping attacks in the Middle East.
“The evidence of a resurgence of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is mounting by the day, nearly three years after the militants lost the last patch of territory of their so-called caliphate, which once stretched across vast parts of the two countries,” the Times said in January. “The fact that ISIS was able to mount these coordinated and sophisticated attacks in recent days shows that what had been believed to be disparate sleeper cells are re-emerging as a more serious threat.”
The Times cited several incidents that have occurred in the region, including a massive attack attempting to free ISIS prisoners in Syria, attacks on military forces in Iraq, and the circulation of a gruesome beheading video.
“It’s a wake-up call for regional players, for national players, that ISIS is not over, that the fight is not over,” Kawa Hassan, Middle East and North Africa director at the Stimson Center, told the outlet. “It shows the resilience of ISIS to strike back at the time and place of their choosing.”