An Iraqi man who came to the U.S. two years ago and applied for asylum developed a plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush in retaliation for casualties during the Iraq War.
Shihab Ahmed Shihab, 52, of Ohio also schemed to smuggle other Iraqis into the U.S. from Mexico to help carry out the plot against the former president.
The suspect came to the U.S. in September of 2020 on a visitor visa and in March 2021 filed for asylum, which is pending review, according to a Justice Department press release.
They would have been smuggled back out through Mexico afterward, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Columbus, Ohio.
The complaint also said Shihab told a confidential informant he and others wanted to kill Bush because they felt he was responsible for killing many Iraqis and causing destruction in Iraq.
Freddy Ford, the chief of staff at the 75-year-old former president's office, said in a statement, "President Bush has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities."
Shihab insinuated he had contacts with ISIS, but it did not appear the plot came close to materializing with confidential informants briefing the FBI from April 2021 through this month, the complaint said.
Shihab told a confidential informant that he assisted in the killing of American soldiers during the Iraq War, and said he and others "wished to kill former President Bush because they felt that he was responsible for killing many Iraqis and breaking apart the entire country of Iraq," according to the government's complaint.
Shihab traveled in February to Dallas, where he took video of the entrance gate to the neighborhood where Bush lives, and also traveled to Detroit in November to investigate smuggling Iraqi nationals into the U.S., the government said.
Shihab met a confidential informant in a Columbus hotel room in March to examine weapons and U.S. border patrol uniforms, according to the complaint. Shihab allegedly planned to use a Columbus car dealership to help transfer money from an Islamic State official into the U.S.
Last fall, Shihab accepted thousands of dollars for what he thought was payment for him to smuggle another Iraqi citizen into the U.S., according to the complaint, but the transaction was entirely coordinated by the FBI.
Shihab was ordered held without bond by federal Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Preston Deavers during a short hearing in court Tuesday. Deavers scheduled a detention hearing for Friday.
The suspect was not required to enter a plea. Soumyajit Dutta, a federal public defender representing him at the hearing, declined to comment. If convicted, Shihab could face up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
One Republican lawmaker told Fox News on Tuesday this is what he and others have been warning about while witnessing President Biden's open border policies.
"This is precisely the concern we had with the open border policies of the Biden administration. For the first year or so, we were fighting with them tooth and nail to try and get information about the number of terrorists that were coming across the border on the terror watch list that had been seized," said U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY), who serves as ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
"For them to say that the open border is not a national security issue is laughable," he told Fox News. "And… with what's going on in Afghanistan emboldening the ISIS elements and the terrorist elements, worldwide, you have a real recipe for disaster that was narrowly averted here. But it doesn't bode well for the future of this country unless they secure this border once and for all."