An Iraqi Asylum-Seeker’s Plot to Assassinate George W. Bush
Americans recently learned that Iraqi asylum-seeker Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab allegedly plotted to sneak several radial Islamist terrorists into the United States across the southern border to assassinate former president George W. Bush. Fortunately, two of the co-conspirators turned out to be Federal Bureau of Investigation informants, but the case nevertheless once again draws attention to the need to remain vigilant to the threat of terrorist infiltration across our porous borders – particularly at a time of unprecedented chaos and massive illegal migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Ohio-based Iraqi national originally entered the U.S. on a tourist visa in September 2020, after which he filed a meritless asylum claim in March 2021 to remain in the country and began plotting a terrorist operation to assassinate the 43rd president. He had also attempted to marry a U.S. citizen woman to obtain permanent status. Shihab was a sympathizer and self-proclaimed fighter for the Islamist terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and had boasted of being part of a death squad called “Thunder” in his native country and having killed “many Americans in Iraq between 2003 and 2006.”
And although he abused the legal route to enter the U.S. Shihab not only engaged in asylum fraud – which happens all too often – but also decided to take advantage of the illegal immigration route by smuggling in a squad of terrorist assassins via the southern border consisting of four Iraqis living in Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Denmark.
As Todd Bensman, an expert on the subject of terrorist infiltration, adds, “because these men were probably on western intelligence radars, thus ‘dirty,’ the terrorists who would kill a former president instead would pay $40,000 each to reach Brazil on fraudulently obtained visas and then make their way up to the U.S.-Mexico border and cross wearing faux Border Patrol uniforms.” He claimed to have already smuggled in two Hezbollah operatives into our country, although this assertion has not been verified. However, given that 158 individuals on the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) have been apprehended so far in Fiscal Year 2022 (following 173 in FY 2021), such activity is certainly possible. Although those numbers apply to attempted entries both at ports of entry and in between them, and to both land borders, the example of Shihab makes it obvious that terrorists wishing to harm Americans view the crisis and mayhem at the U.S.-Mexico border as an opportunity.
The fact that the aspiring terrorist Shihab entered the country legally on a tourist visa does not change the above calculus since, as already mentioned, the Iraqi viewed the southern border as the best route to smuggle a squad of assassins into the U.S. The task of keeping our country safe is a multi-front battle that requires us to focus on better vetting while simultaneously securing our dangerously porous borders. The Shihab case also shows that not only economic migrants but also hardcore bad guys attempt to game the asylum system as a way to infiltrate this nation.