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ISIS operative planned to assassinate George W. Bush, report says

DALLAS — An alleged Islamic State operative based in Ohio was plotting to assassinate former President George W. Bush and even traveled to Dallas late last year to survey his home, according to an exclusive Forbes report and recently unsealed court documents.

The alleged ISIS operative said he wanted to assassinate Bush because he felt the former president was responsible for killing Iraqis and destabilizing the country after the U.S. invasion in 2003, according to an unsealed FBI search-warrant application obtained by Forbes. The alleged operative planned to smuggle assassins across the Mexican border to Dallas to kill the former president.

The news comes days after Bush, who was president from 2001 to 2009, made headlines for a verbal faux pas when he said the invasion of Iraq was “wholly unjustified and brutal,” when he meant the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Republican leaders reacted with particular concern about smuggling assassins across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The alleged operative, whose name has not been released since no charges have been filed against him, had been in the U.S. since 2020 and had an asylum application pending, Forbes reported. It is unclear if he has been arrested.

Investigators uncovered the plot through confidential informants and via the Meta-owned messaging platform WhatsApp, the report says.

FBI agents reportedly used two different confidential sources to reveal the operative’s plan, including one who claimed to offer assistance obtaining false immigration and identification documents, and another who claimed to be a purported customer of the alleged people smuggler, who was willing to pay thousands of dollars to bring his family into the country.

The suspect claimed to be a part of a unit called “Al-Raed,” a group led by a former Iraqi pilot for Saddam Hussein. The suspect said as many as seven group members would be sent to kill Bush, according to the warrant. The suspect was tasked with surveillance on the former president and traveled to Dallas to video his home and offices, including the George W. Bush Institute at Southern Methodist University.

The suspect said he was planning to charge four Iraqi national males, located in Iraq, Turkey, Egypt and Denmark, $15,000 each to be smuggled into the U.S. He described them as “former Baath Party members in Iraq who did not agree with the current Iraqi government and were political exiles,” the FBI said.

The FBI’s court filings allege the plotter claimed to have killed many Americans in Iraq between 2003 and 2006, according to the report.

Last week during a 10-minute speech at an event on democracy at his presidential center, Bush made a verbal faux pas while referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Bush noted has brutally stifled popular dissent and had political opponents imprisoned.

“The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” Bush said, before wincing and correcting himself. “I mean, of Ukraine.”

The comment left the audience in an awkward silence. Then, Bush shrugged and said under his breath: “Iraq, too.”

Texas Republicans in Congress were quick to collectively hone in on one key takeaway from the report: The man accused of plotting to kill the former president planned to smuggle his co-conspirators over the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Stunning,” Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted. “This bombshell report puts it in the absolute starkest terms the necessity to secure the border NOW. #BidenBorderCrisis”

Sen. John Cornyn tweeted out a link to the Forbes story, pulling out one quote in particular: “recruiting help from a team of compatriots he hoped to smuggle into the country over the Mexican border.”

Cornyn retweeted San Angelo Rep. August Pfluger: “Forbes is reporting an ISIS plotter planned to assassinate George W. Bush with Iraqi compatriots smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border. The threat of terrorism due to our porous southern border grows every day. We must secure our border.”

Many expressed similar outrage, with Austin Rep. Chip Roy tweeting: “Well, thankfully – according to AliMayorkas – we have total operational control of the southern border and it is fully secure – so absolutely zero people associated with terrorists are exploiting it!,” referring to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.”

“An alleged ISIS-linked individual was hoping to smuggle a team of assassins THROUGH OUR SOUTHERN BORDER to kill former President George W. Bush,” Texas Rep. Pat Fallon tweeted. “Still think our southern border isn’t a matter of national security?”

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