Between September 2002 and 9 June 2003, while he was in Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Umar Abu Ali discussed with an unidentified suspect two options for assassinating Bush, according to the 16-page indictment by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia.
They talked about "an operation in which Abu Ali would get close enough to the president to shoot him on the street and ... an operation in which Abu Ali would detonate a car bomb", the indictment said.
The indictment charged Abu Ali with providing material support and resources to "terrorists", intending that they would be used to assassinate Bush.
The indictment - filed on 3 February - also said he meant to become a planner of "terrorist operations".
Abu Ali, who last resided in the United States in Falls Church, Virginia, was arrested by Saudi officials on 9 June 2003, and had been held there for over a year.
"He (Abu Ali) now stands charged with some of the most serious offences our nation can bring against supporters of terrorism"
US attorney Paul McNulty
He arrived back in the US late on Monday.
A court spokesman in Virginia said Ali appeared before a magistrate on Tuesday, and was ordered detained until another hearing on Thursday.
If convicted on all of the charges, he faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison.
He was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to, as well as receiving funds and services from, al-Qaida.
Detained without trial
"He now stands charged with some of the most serious offences our nation can bring against supporters of terrorism," US attorney Paul McNulty said in a statement.
In July, Abu Ali's parents filed a lawsuit saying US government officials had their 23-year-old son detained unlawfully in Saudi Arabia for more than a year without any charges.
That case is pending before a federal judge in Washington.