An Iraqi man living in Columbus, Ohio, has been charged by federal authorities for allegedly plotting to smuggle foreign nationals into the United States as part of a plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush.
Agents from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, 52, Tuesday morning. He appeared in federal court at 2:30 p.m. and his case was unsealed at that time, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Authorities caught Shihab in a sting set up under the direction of the FBI.
In August 2021, Shihab allegedly intended to help who he thought was an Iraqi citizen enter the country for a $40,000 fee.
“Shihab provided specific instructions on how he would smuggle the person into the United States after 60 days. In October and December 2021, Shihab accepted tens of thousands of dollars for the purported smuggling. In reality, the individual was fictitious, and the interaction was coordinated under the direction of the FBI,” the DOJ said in a release.
The DOJ said the charging document also alleges that Shihab had plans to smuggle four additional Iraqis into the United States “for the purpose of killing former President George W. Bush in retaliation” for Iraqi deaths during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
OIF, commonly known as the Iraq War, was launched in 2003 by the United States under Bush.
It is alleged that Shihab then planned to smuggle the would-be assassins out of the country via Mexico.
“In furtherance of the assassination plot, Shihab allegedly traveled to Dallas in February 2022 to conduct surveillance of locations associated with the former President,” the DOJ said. “In March 2022, it is alleged Shihab met with others in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio, to look at sample firearms and law enforcement uniforms.”
Shihab is an asylum seeker who entered the United States in September 2020 on a visitor visa. He lived in both Columbus and Indianapolis and worked at markets and restaurants in both cities, according to the DOJ.
The charges against him were announced by officials from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, the DOJ’s National Security Division, the FBI’s Cincinnati Division, and the United States Secret Service.