INDIANAPOLIS – An Iraqi man accused of plotting to kill former President George W. Bush had ties to the Indianapolis area.

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, 52-year-old Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab routinely traveled between the Indianapolis metropolitan area and Columbus, Ohio. Shihab worked at a market in Indianapolis and held various jobs in the Columbus area, primarily in restaurants and markets. He also had an apartment in the Indianapolis area, the FBI said.

According to court documents, Shihab wanted to kill Bush in retaliation for the war in Iraq, which he blamed on the former president. His plot would have involved smuggling other Iraqi nationals into the U.S. from Mexico.

People he believed were helping him arrange the assassination plot were working for the FBI as confidential informants. One informant paid Shihab to help smuggle his brother into the U.S.

Shihab then gave another informant a down payment to begin the process of smuggling the brother into the country. Shihab said he would help the brother get a job.

Shihab claimed he had ties with the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) and another group called “Al Raed.” He told an informant he’d aided in the Iraqi resistance against the U.S. and had, between 2003 and 2006, assisted with “killing many Americans.” Investigators believed “the resistance” referred to Al-Qaeda in Iraq or ISIS.

Shihab told the informant he’d transported weapons and vehicles from Syria into Iraq. Many of the vehicles, he said, were packed with explosives and placed at roadsides; when U.S. forces traveled along the roads, the explosives would then be detonated.

Shihab provided a confidential informant with the identities of several people he wanted to smuggle into the U.S. and said they were “planning to kill former President George W. Bush.” Shihab asked the informant if he knew any details about the security at Bush’s house and farm in Texas and wondered if “four to six individuals were enough to kill” the former president.

He also asked the informant for help in obtaining replica or fraudulent police and/or FBI identifications and badges. Once they’d carried out the plot, he planned to smuggle his accomplices out of the U.S. through Mexico, investigators said.

Shihab told the informant he and the 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.”

In February 2022, Shihab traveled to Texas to evaluate the logistics and potential costs of the assassination mission, the FBI said. He took videos of the entrance to the former president’s residence so he and the others could map out their assassination plan. He also shot video of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.

In March, Shihab met an informant at a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio, to examine various firearms and a United States Customs and Border Patrol uniform with a gun belt. At one point, Shihab tried on a Border Patrol hat, the informant said.

Shihab told the informant he was “most interested in obtaining Colt M-16s and the Sig Sauer P226 pistols” for the operation. He also asked if the informant could “obtain grenade launchers that can be attached to the barrel” of M-16s.

In April, the FBI interviewed Shihab, who told them about a large smuggling network that could get people into the U.S. from Mexico and said he’d been approached by someone who had a relative they wanted to smuggle into the U.S.

He said he was “curious to see if the smuggling network” could get the man into the U.S. He handed over information about his contacts, who were both (unknown to Shihab) confidential informants. Shihab omitted key details during the interview, the FBI said, failing to mention the plot against Bush or the March meeting in Ohio in which he examined weapons.

The plot to kill the former president didn’t advance very far. Money Shihab accepted to smuggle a relative came from a confidential informant and ended up being passed to a second confidential informant in a transaction orchestrated by the FBI.

If convicted, Shihab faces up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

A spokesman for President George W. Bush said the former president “has all the confidence in the world in the United States Secret Service and our law enforcement and intelligence communities.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report