Golden Belgian tip helps to foil assassination of George W. Bush
An attempt to murder former US President George W. Bush earlier this year was foiled thanks to actions by Belgian intelligence officers. A four-man terrorist cell planned to assassinate the former president while he was holding a speech. The US secret service was able to prevent the attack thanks to a golden tip provided by Belgian state intelligence.
Earlier this year US media outlets including Bloomberg, Times Media and CNBC reported that the FBI, America’s internal security service, succeeded in foiling a plot to kill George W. Bush. Shihab Ahmed Shihab, an Iraqi asylum seeker, stands accused to aiming to murder the former president during a speech in Dallas. Shihab earlier reconnoitred Bush’s homes in Dallas and Crawford, Texas, making videos of security at these premises.
The Iraqi worked with several accomplices. One of their number turned out to be an officer in US intelligence. The US intelligence service had earlier received a tip off from their colleagues in Brussels.
Four Iraqis were arrested including two members of the former Iraqi security service. The four had travelled to the US via Turkey, Egypt and Denmark. America’s FBI says the plot may have been conceived but was definitely supported by an IS cell.
For years now the Belgian intelligence service, the VSSE, has been keeping tabs of returning IS fighters and other IS supporters. One of those followed was a key figure in the leadership of the IS caliphate and according to the Belgian secret service potentially still poses a threat.
These are people from Iraq and Syria who possess the knowledge and means to commit atrocities and often also the motivation.
“It’s a particularly dangerous combination” a privileged source told VRT’s Jens Franssen. “It looks like the foursome were seeking revenge for Bush’s role in the Second Gulf War”.
Following the 9/11 attacks on America, a coalition of forces headed by the US invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. The war triggered chaos and a civil war that lasted many years and claimed numerous lives. George W. Bush had ordered the invasion.
The Belgian intelligence service suddenly noticed that one of the individuals they were following had numerous contacts with Shihab. Conversations were intercepted as well as information about the trafficking of persons who could pose a threat. US intelligence was informed about the results of the surveillance.
VRT’s Belgian source says that at this time the US secret service was not yet keeping tabs on Shihab. Our privileged source notes there have not been numerous occasions when Belgium was able to provide the Americans with a golden tip that led to the dismantling of a terrorist outfit on US soil that was actively planning to assassinate the former president.
“The case is exceptional,” says Kenneth Lasoen, a security expert at Clingendael/ Antwerp University) “though from time to time it does happen. Smaller intelligence services like the Belgian VSSE are able to assist their US counterparts that possess significantly more means and staff. You can’t know everything that happens in the world and smaller players sometimes hit on something crucial. This may happen by accident or because an intelligence service is specialised in a particular area where it has developed strengths”.
The VRT contacted the VSSE for confirmation but that was not forthcoming.