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Press Release

Columbus man sentenced to more than 14 years in prison for attempting to support terrorist plot to murder former President

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Iraqi citizen living in Columbus was sentenced in federal court here today to 178 months in prison for attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization as part of a plot to murder former United States President George W. Bush.

Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab, 53, believed the former President was responsible for killing many Iraqis and breaking apart the entire country of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The defendant’s own life changed during and after the war and he proudly assisted in this plot.

Shihab originally entered the United States in September 2020 and primarily resided in Columbus from December 2020 until his arrest in May 2022. Throughout much of that time, Shihab attempted to provide material support to terrorists in furtherance of a plot to assassinate former President George W. Bush.

Shihab hoped to smuggle at least four Iraqis associated with ISIS into the United States with the goal of completing the assassination. In fact, in the fall of 2021, Shihab believed he successfully smuggled an ISIS member into the United States for a fee of $40,000. 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.

In furtherance of the assassination plot, Shihab traveled to Dallas in February 2022 to conduct surveillance of locations associated with the former President. For example, he recorded videos of the front access gate and surrounding area leading into the neighborhood of the former President’s home.

In March 2022, Shihab met with others in a hotel room in Columbus to look at sample firearms and law enforcement uniforms.

Shihab required the use of burner phones, encrypted communication applications and code names as plans evolved.

Shihab was arrested by FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents in May 2022. He pleaded guilty in March 2023 to attempting to provide material support to terrorists. Shihab was also sentenced today to a lifetime of supervised release following his prison sentence.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice, National Security Division; Cheryl Mimura, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; and Yvonne Dicristoforo, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service, announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson. Deputy Criminal Chief Jessica W. Knight and Trial Attorney Frank Russo from the Department of Justice’s National Security Division are representing the United States in this case.

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Updated February 14, 2024

National Security