DALLAS — An Iraqi citizen living in Columbus, Ohio, has been arrested and charged with aiding and abetting a plot to murder former President George W. Bush, according to federal officials.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) said 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab, also known as "Abu Ahmed," entered the United States in September 2020 on a visitor visa, and in March 2021, filed a claim for asylum with United States citizenship, which is pending review.
Shihad also faces an immigration charge in the case.
Shihab, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by WFAA, told two confidential FBI informants he had plans to smuggle people into the United States to help carry out the assassination of Bush. One of the FBI informants was someone pretending to be a human smuggler and another was pretending to be a fellow customer, the document said.
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 the second informant and the interaction was coordinated under the direction of the FBI.
Shihab – who lived and worked in both Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio – told one of the FBI informants in November of 2021 that he and four additional Iraqi nationals were planning to kill the former president. Shihab asked the confidential informant whether or not they thought four to six people would be enough to kill former President Bush.
According to the arrest affidavit, the suspect "felt the former president was responsible for killing many Iraqis and breaking apart the country after the 2003 U.S. military invasion."
Shihab traveled to Dallas in February 2022 to take video of Bush’s home and around his property, according to the affidavit.
The document said Shihab told the FBI informant he wanted to send the videos taken of Bush's home and office to two former Iraqi intelligence officers who were part of the group wanting to execute the assassination. According to the affidavit, Shihab said the two intelligence officers would be the ones to "carry out the assassination of former President Bush."
The document also stated the Shihab took video around the George W. Bush Institute near the Southern Methodist University campus.
In March 2022, Shihab met with others in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio, to look at sample firearms and law enforcement uniforms, the affidavit said.
One of the people at the hotel room was an FBI informant.
The FBI interviewed Shihab in April, and he admitted to being involved in a smuggling operation, though he did not say anything about the plot against Bush, the affidavit said.
In a statement Tuesday, Bush released a statement through his office, saying he "has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities."
Shihab 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.