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About the Iraqi Asylum Seeker Who Allegedly Wanted to Import an ISIS Terrorist Hit Squad


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Middle East Forum

Todd Bensman
May 27, 2022

An Ohio FBI criminal complaint from a complex sting investigation alleges that a self-proclaimed ISIS fighter seeking asylum in the Buckeye State, who claimed to have killed "many Americans in Iraq between 2003 and 2006" while operating in a hit squad called "Thunder," plotted to smuggle up to eight of his brethren over the southern border to kill former President George W. Bush at his Dallas residence.

The arrest warrant affidavit alleges that Shihab Ahmed Shibab originally flew into America on a tourist visa in September 2020 and then stayed to plot terrorism on a bogus asylum claim when it expired.

But 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, the arrest warrant affidavit alleges.

Shihab claimed he'd already successfully smuggled in two Hezbollah members and was willing to smuggle in terrorists from any group. Shihab allegedly was facilitating real Thunder operatives to come in to kill Bush as part of a plot controlled by leadership in Qatar, and he personally was going to help with surveillance and weapons provisions. But unlike the successful travel, he supposedly arranged earlier, this time Shihab picked co-conspirators living in Ohio that were working for the FBI.



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PERSPECTIVE: America’s Covert Border War and Special Interest Aliens

By Todd Bensman

April 1, 2021

The following is a chapter from America’s Covert Border War: The Untold Story of the Nation’s Battle to Prevent Jihadist Infiltration by Todd Bensman about Special Interest Aliens (SIAs), defined by the Department of Homeland Security as “a non-U.S. person who, based on an analysis of travel patterns, potentially poses a national security risk to the United States or its interests.” Bensman is a contributor to HSToday and previously discussed his book on an HSToday webinar.

Cat and Mouse: The Kingpins


On March 10, 2011, HSI investigators at the Miami International Airport closed the books on the final chapter of a long, high-wire war-on-terror investigation. Their longtime quarry, 37-year-old Iran Ul-Haq, a Pakistani legal resident of Ecuador they’d been tracking across the globe for months, stepped off the plane from Quito. No drama; Ecuadoran officers handed him off to HSI agents, who slapped cuffs on and took him to jail in Washington D.C. to face terrorism charges. A secret, high-wire intercontinental undercover sting, an outcome of a covert American counterterrorism strategy in Latin America about which the U.S. public knows next to nothing, was finally over. The path that led Ul-Haq to cuffs at the Miami airport and into a D.C. jail was a serpentine one. Born into a family of two brothers and five sisters, his father was a leather salesman who could barely support them all in Pakistan. Ul-Haq worked hard to get an education as a youth. He graduated from high school, managed to earn an undergraduate degree, and then even an advanced graduate degree. He worked at various entrepreneurial endeavors in Dubai, Cyprus, Turkey, Venezuela and finally Ecuador, where he picked up a third language, Spanish (besides Urdu and Arabic) and also discovered that these skills almost perfectly suited the true calling he discovered in South America: human smuggling.[2]



In the interest of Fairness From 1* review at Amazonn

Reviewed in the United States on November 18, 2021

Todd Bensman’s America’s Covert Border War faces several challenges right out of the gate. First, it’s a work of speculative nonfiction about how terrorists plotting to kill Americans could cross the U.S.-Mexico border, even though none are known to have done so. Second, it was published 15 years after fear of Islamic terrorism peaked. Third, the Trump administration—the biggest source of public speculation about Muslim terrorists crossing the border—is over. Only the best of writers would have overcome those challenges to produce a good book.

Bensman overcame none of them.

This book’s biggest problem is that the author has nothing to write about. Not a single terrorist has illegally crossed the Mexican border and then committed an attack on U.S. soil. Bensman systematically exaggerates threats, selectively excludes information, and blurs the line between how terrorists theoretically could have infiltrated the country and what they actuallyhave done.

At times Bensman finds a nugget that sounds scary. There is, for instance, the “2001 California border crossing of a ranking Hezbollah operative (in the trunk of a car) later convicted of terrorism.” That sounds like a legitimate threat, and a reasonable reader might expect that half‐sentence to be the beginning of a chapter about a serious terrorism case. But Bensman doesn’t mention it again, never tells the reader the terrorist’s name, and gives a citation that’s little help in tracking it down.

After digging, I discovered that this terrorist was Mahmoud Youssef Kourani. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. By all accounts, he was a criminal justly convicted. But there is no indication that he ever planned or intended to commit a terrorist attack, particularly against Americans.



“Yes, I'm paranoid — but am I paranoid enough?”

David Foster Wallace

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