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Terrorism

US charges IRGC member over plot to murder former National Security Advisor Bolton

Working on behalf of the IRGC-QF, the Iranian national tried to pay people inside the US $300,000 to carry out the assassination in Washington, DC or Maryland, according to the Justice Department.

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The US Justice Department has charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for plotting to murder former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

“According to court documents, beginning in October 2021, Shahram Poursafi, aka Mehdi Rezayi, 45, of Tehran, Iran, attempted to arrange the murder of former National Security Advisor John Bolton, likely in retaliation for the January 2020 death of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qasem Soleimani,” the Justice Department said in a statement.

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Working on behalf of the IRGC-QF, Poursafi tried to pay people inside the US $300,000 to carry out the assassination in Washington, DC or Maryland, according to the Justice Department.

Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch Larissa Knapp said that Iran had a history of plotting to assassinate individuals in the US it considered a threat, “but the US Government has a longer history of holding accountable those who threaten the safety of our citizens.”

For his part, Bolton thanked the Justice Department, the FBI and the Secret Service. “While much cannot be said publicly right now, one point is indisputable: Iran’s rulers are liars, terrorists, and enemies of the United States,” he said in a statement. “Their radical, anti-American objectives are unchanged; their commitments are worthless; and their global threat is growing.”

Bolton urged the Biden administration not to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which has been a top priority for the State Department and other US officials since President Joe Biden was elected. “America re-entering the failed 2015 Iran nuclear deal would be an unparalleled self-inflicted wound, to ourselves and our closest Middle East allies,” Bolton said.

The plot

According to court documents, on Oct. 22, 2021, Poursafi asked a US resident, identified as “Individual A,” to take pictures of Bolton for a book he was writing.

The US resident then told Poursafi that they could introduce Poursafi to someone who could take the pictures for $5,000-$10,000. The US resident introduced the Iranian to an undercover government informant, also known as a CHS.

In November 2021, the IRGC member contacted the undercover government informant, offering the CHS $250,000 to hire someone to “eliminate” Bolton. The amount was later upped to $300,000, and Poursafi said he had an additional “job,” for which he would pay $1 million.

Poursafi pictured by the FBI. (Justice Department)
Poursafi pictured by the FBI. (Justice Department)

The IRGC agent said he would pay the CHS via cryptocurrency accounts but said the CHS would have to carry out the murder before being paid. Poursafi never denied his involvement with IRGC-QF, the Justice Department said.

Poursafi told the CHS that it did not matter how the murder was carried out and said his “group” needed video proof that Bolton was dead.

On January 3, 2022, Poursafi told the CHS that he was under pressure from “his people” to carry out the plot. “That same day, Poursafi expressed regret that the murder would not be conducted by the anniversary of Qasem Soleimani’s death,” the Justice Department said.

The IRGC agent offered another job for a “second target.” The Justice Department did not reveal who or what that target was.

But former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to be the second target.

The Justice Department “confirmed directly to Secretary Pompeo that he is one of the individuals who has been targeted by those who are [charged] in the announced DOJ [documents],” US outlet Axios quoted a source close to Pompeo as saying.

Former State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus also confirmed that Pompeo was targeted.

“For months, Iran’s gunmen have been walking around the streets of DC stalking John Bolton. DOJ’s indictment says Iran wanted to assassinate another top US government official. I can confirm the second target is former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” Ortagus tweeted.

Read more: US intelligence uncovers plot by Iran’s Quds Force to assassinate John Bolton: Report

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