Federal agents on Tuesday arrested an Iraqi immigrant accused of planning to assassinate former President George W. Bush.
Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, 52, was arrested and charged with attempting to bring foreign nationals into the United States illegally and with aiding and abetting a plot to assassinate a former U.S. official, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Agents with the FBI’s counterterrorism unit arrested Shihab in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday morning. Agents oversaw an operation which resulted in Shihab allegedly receiving tens of thousands of dollars in order to help several foreign nationals illegally migrate to the United States from across the southern border.
“[I]n August 2021, Shihab allegedly intended to help who he thought was another Iraqi citizen enter the United States for a fee of $40,000. Shihab provided specific instructions on how he would smuggle the person into the United States after 60 days,” the DOJ said. “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.”
Shihab had plans to bring over four other Iraqi nationals to carry out a plot to assassinate Bush in retaliation for Iraqi death in “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” according to the charging documents.
“President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities,” Freddy Ford, chief of staff for the Office of George W. Bush, told Forbes.
The alleged plot to assassinate Bush was first revealed by Forbes, which obtained an FBI search warrant application filed on Monday. The affidavit said that Shihab planned to assassinate the former president and took steps to carry out the plot, even traveling to Dallas to take video of Bush’s ranch and the George W. Bush Institute.
Shihab allegedly plotted to get four Iraqi citizens living in Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, and Denmark into the U.S. through the southern border to assassinate Bush, then planned for those four to leave the country to escape law enforcement. According to the FBI, Shihab told one confidential FBI source that one of the men he planned to bring into the U.S. is “the secretary of an ISIS financial minister.” All of the men, he allegedly said, are “former Baath Party members in Iraq who did not agree with the current Iraqi government and were political exiles.”