An ISIS operative living in the U.S. had elaborate plans to assassinate former President George W. Bush in Dallas, Texas, but his schemes were foiled by two confidential informants, according to an FBI search warrant application recently obtained by Forbes.
According to the report, the ISIS operative — who had been residing in Columbus, Ohio, since 2020 under a pending asylum application — went so far as to travel to Bush's former residence in Dallas in November 2021 to conduct surveillance and record video of the property.
He also had plans to recruit as many as seven other ISIS members to help with the assassination and hoped to smuggle them into the U.S. through the country's southern border with Mexico using visitor visas.
Forbes reported that the relevant documents were filed by the FBI in March and unsealed in the Southern District of Ohio this week.
As of Tuesday, no charges had been filed against the suspect and so his identity is being concealed. The Department of Justice has yet to publicly comment regarding the investigation.
The FBI uncovered the alleged plot through information provided by two confidential informants with explicit knowledge of the plan. One informant reportedly posed as a human smuggler, while the other pretended to be a fellow customer of the smuggler.
Agents also surveilled the alleged plotter's conversations on WhatsApp, a worldwide messaging platform, after the suspect began using a phone given to him by one of the informants.
In communication with the sources and on his WhatsApp account, the alleged plotter claimed to be part of an ISIS-linked unit called "Al-Raed," or "Thunder," led by a now-deceased former Iraqi pilot for Saddam Hussein based in Qatar.
As part of the unit's mission, as many as seven other members would be sent to the U.S. to carry out the assassination of Bush. The plotter's specific 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 warrant stated.
The plotter allegedly expressed that he wanted to kill Bush as revenge for the former president killing many Iraqis and breaking apart the country after the 2003 U.S. military invasion.
In response to the report, Bush's chief of staff, Freddy Ford, said, "President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities."
Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, added that the "sophisticated counterterrorism" efforts show that the U.S. believed the assassination plot was also sophisticated and serious.