The FBI averted an attack on former US President George W. Bush earlier this year thanks to intelligence from Belgian security services, reported VRT on Saturday. The tip allowed US security officials to arrest a cell of four terrorists.
Shihab Ahmed, an asylum seeker from Iraq, allegedly wanted to kill the former president at a speech in Dallas, Texas. He travelled to the ex-president's residence in Dallas and Crawford for monitoring purposes and is said to have filmed the security apparatus around Bush's house together with accomplices. However, one of these was an agent of US security services.
American intelligence was then tipped by Belgium, after Belgium had monitored the returned IS (Islamic State) fighters for years.
One of the returned IS fighters suddenly began communicating with Shibab a lot, who could be a threat. According to VRT, some of the communication between the two involved people smuggling, which was intercepted by Belgian intelligence.
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Belgian security services then got in touch with its American counterpart and only then the Shihab come on to the FBI's radar.
"The case is exceptional," said Kenneth Lasoen, a security expert at Clingendael/ Antwerp University in VRT, adding that "though from time to time it does happen. Smaller intelligence services like the Belgian VSSE (Belgian intelligence) 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 tried contacting Belgian intelligence for confirmation, but the security services weren't forthcoming.