COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Iraqi citizen living in Columbus is accused of planning to assassinate former President George W. Bush, going as far as traveling to Texas last year to take video around his home.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab was arrested by FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents Tuesday morning.
Authorities say Shihab came to the United States around September 2020 and filed a claim for asylum United States Citizenship and Immigrant Services in March 2021.
Shihab also lived in Indianapolis and worked at markets and restaurants in both cities.
The FBI alleges that Shihab wanted to provide support to the Islamic State terrorist group and smuggle people into the country to kill the former president.
According to court documents, Shihab said he wanted to assassinate Bush because he felt the former president was responsible for killing many Iraqis and” breaking apart the entire country” after the 2003 U.S. military invasion.
It is alleged that Shihab exchanged money with others in an attempt to illegally bring foreign nationals to the United States.
In August 2021, Shihab allegedly intended to help who he thought was another Iraqi citizen enter the country for a fee of $40,000. According to authorities, the individual was fictitious and the interaction was coordinated under the direction of the FBI.
Shihab provided instructions on how he would smuggle the person into the country after 60 days. In October and December 2021, Shihab accepted tens of thousands of dollars for the purported smuggling.
The charging document also alleges that Shihab planned to smuggle four additional foreign nationals into the United States in order to carry out the assassination.
According to court records, Shihab said he wanted to be involved in the actual attack and assassination of Bush and did not care if he died as he would be proud to have been involved.
Shihab then allegedly planned to smuggle the four out of the country via the Mexico border.
In February 2022, Shihab traveled to Dallas to conduct surveillance of locations associated with Bush including his residence.
Shihab then allegedly met with others in a Columbus hotel room to look at sample firearms and law enforcement uniforms in March 2022.
He has been federally charged with an immigration crime and with aiding and abetting a plot to murder.
Attempting to illegally bring an individual into the United States is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Aiding and abetting the attempted murder of a former United States Official carries a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
A spokesperson for former President Bush sent the following statement to 10TV:
"President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities."