Overnight Defense

Defense & National Security — Man charged in plot to kill George W. Bush 

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An Iraqi citizen living in Ohio has been charged with aiding and abetting an ISIS plot to kill former President George W. Bush.  

We’ll break down the charges, plus we’ll talk about Russia and China conducting a joint military drill during President Biden’s trip to Japan.

This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. A friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

Man facing charges in plot to kill Bush

An Iraqi citizen living in Columbus, Ohio is facing federal charges for aiding and abetting a plot to kill former President George W. Bush.  

Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, 52, is facing federal charges of immigration crime and aiding and abetting, the Justice Department said in a statement.  

He was arrested on Tuesday, and he appeared in federal court.  

The alleged plot: News of the plot was first reported by Forbes, which obtained an FBI search warrant. 

The outlet reported that the plot would have involved at least seven ISIS members. Shihab’s role was “to locate and conduct surveillance on former president Bush’s residences and/or offices and obtain firearms and vehicles to use in the assassination.” 

Bush’s office weighs in: In a statement to The Hill, Bush’s chief of staff, Freddy Ford, neither confirmed nor denied the alleged plot and said that “President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.” 

Shihab’s alleged role: The Justice Department alleges that Shihab planned to smuggle four additional Iraqi foreign nationals to kill Bush in retaliation for Iraqi deaths during “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”  

Shihab also allegedly traveled to Dallas in February to conduct surveillance of locations associated with Bush. In March, he allegedly met others in a hotel in Columbus to look at sample firearms and law enforcement uniforms.  

The specific charges: Shihab is charged with attempting to illegally bring an individual into the U.S., a crime which is punishable by up to ten years, the Justice Department said. 

He is also charged with aiding and abetting the attempted murder of a former U.S. official, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  

14 STUDENTS, 1 TEACHER DEAD IN TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING

At least 14 students and one teacher are dead following a shooting at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

The governor said the suspected shooter was an 18-year-old male who was believed to have entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, with a handgun, as well as possibly a rifle.

“He shot — horrifically, incomprehensibly — 14 students, and killed a teacher,” Abbott said, adding that the shooter himself “is deceased and is believed that responding officers killed him.”

Uvalde Memorial Hospital had said earlier on Facebook shortly before 3 p.m. local time that two individuals had died and more than a dozen others were hospitalized after the shooting at the school, about 85 miles west of San Antonio.

The ages of those who died was not immediately released, though the hospital said others injured were children.

Read more here.

Russia, China conduct joint drill during Biden trip 

China and Russia flew nuclear-capable bombers Tuesday in a joint military drill that came as President Biden is in Japan, a senior administration official confirmed.  

The exercise demonstrates that Beijing is continuing its military cooperation with Moscow in the Indo-Pacific “even as Russia continues to conduct a brutal war against Ukraine,” the official told The Hill in a statement.   

The bombers “traversed the Sea of Japan and continued through the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea,” the official said, adding that the exercise was likely planned well in advance by both countries and included Chinese navy ships. 

First since the war: The two countries have conducted several joint military exercises over the past few years, the most recent being in August 2021. But Tuesday’s joint drill is the first such exercise between China and Russia since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.  

Though Beijing and Moscow pledged a “no-limits” partnership weeks ahead of the Kremlin’s attack on Ukraine – an invasion China has not condemned – there are no indications that China has given military assistance to Russia, according to U.S. officials.   

How China, Russia described things:

  • China’s Ministry of National Defense described the drill as a “joint aerial strategic patrol,” which took place over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the western Pacific Ocean
  • China added that the flights were part of the two countries’ “annual military cooperation plan”  
  • Russia’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, said the exercise lasted 13 hours and involved Russian Tu-95 and Chinese Xian H-6 strategic bombers

Biden’s trip to Asia: The military exercise also comes as Biden is wrapping up his trip to Asia. The commander-in-chief is currently in Tokyo for the Quad leaders second in-person summit with the heads of Japan, India and Australia.   

Biden, whose trip has included stops in South Korea and Japan, has sought to strengthen ties with allies and partners in the region. 

Read the story here.  

Panel recommends renaming some military bases

The commission tasked with recommending new titles for nine Army bases named after Confederate generals on Tuesday put forward their suggestions, including renaming Fort Hood, Texas after the first Latino four-star general.   

The congressional Naming Commission “sought to find names that would be inspirational to the Soldiers and civilians who serve on our Army posts, and to the communities who support them,” the group’s chair, retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, said in a statement 

How this started: The potential name changes, first reported by ABC News, come after legislation passed by Congress last year dictated the renaming of Army installations named for Confederate leaders by 2023.  

The recommended names do not go into effect until approved by Congress and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. 

And now, the names: Here are the bases that the panel recommended to be renamed:  

  • Fort Benning, Ga., to be renamed Fort Moore after Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, who commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Calvary Regiment during the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in 1965 during the Vietnam War — and his wife Julia Moore.  
  • Fort Bragg, N.C., to be renamed Fort Liberty in honor of the “American value of liberty.”  
  • Fort Gordon, Ga., to be renamed for former Army general and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  
  • Fort A.P. Hill, Va., to be renamed for Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the first female Army surgeon and only woman awarded the Medal of Honor.  
  • Fort Hood, Texas, to be renamed for Gen. Richard E. Cavazos, who in 1982 became the Army’s first Latino Four-Star General.  
  • Fort Lee., Va., to be renamed for former three-star general Arthur Gregg and Charity Adams, the first African American to be an officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp.  
  • Fort Pickett, Va., to be renamed for Tech Sgt. Van T. Barfoot, who received a Medal of Honor for his service during World War II.  
  • Fort Polk, La., to be renamed for World War I hero Sgt. William Henry Johnson.  
  • Fort Rucker, Ala., to be renamed for CW4 Michael J. Novosel, Sr., who received a Medal of Honor for his service during the Vietnam War. 

Other things to be named: In addition to recommending the military installation name changes, the Naming Commission is also reviewing more than 750 Defense Department items — including street, school and building names, symbols, displays, monuments or paraphernalia — to determine whether they commemorate the Confederacy.  

Cost estimates for the proposed renaming or removing of items will be included in the commission’s final recommendations to Congress, which are due to the House and Senate Armed Services committees by Oct. 1. 

Read the story here.  

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • The Defense Strategies Institute will host the 6th Annual Joint C2 Summit at 8:15 a.m. 
  • The East-West Center will host a discussion on “Balancing Diplomatic Priorities Across Multiple Interests: North Korea and Europe Relations” at 10 a.m. 
  • Foreign Policy will host a virtual discussion on “Tech Regulations – A National Security Threat?” at 11 a.m. 
  • The American Security Project will host a discussion called “rEVolution: The Future of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and the Military” at 12 p.m. 
  • The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing on “Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the United States Secret Service” at 2 p.m. 
  • JINSA will host a discussion on “Time for Plan B on Iran” at 2 p.m. 
  • The Atlantic Council will host a discussion on “The future of artificial intelligence in national security and defense” at 2:30 p.m. 
  • The Council for a Livable World will host “Nuclear Justice and the Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons: A Conversation with Rep. Katie Porter” at 7 p.m. 

SENATE 

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on “The JCPOA Negotiations and United States’ Policy on Iran Moving Forward” at 10 a.m. 
  • The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies will hold “A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 Funding Request for the Federal Bureau of Investigation” at 2 p.m. 
  • The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs will hold a “Review of the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the U.S. Agency for International Development” at 2:30 p.m. 
  • The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch will hold a “Review of the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the Capitol Police, Library of Congress, and the Comptroller General of the United States” at 3:45 p.m. 

WHAT WE’RE READING

That’s it for today. Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!

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