A member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard offered $300,000 in the assassination scheme of Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton.
According to Justice Department officials, a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been charged in a murder-for-hire plot targeting former National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Federal charges unsealed against Shahram Poursafi, who allegedly attempted to arrange Bolton’s assassination in retaliation for a US drone strike in Baghdad in 2020 that killed Iran commander Qasem Soleimani.
According to federal prosecutors, Poursafi attempted to pay a U.S. contact $300,000 to carry out the plot, unaware that the unidentified person was a U.S. government informant.
“The Justice Department has a solemn duty to defend our citizens from hostile governments that seek to harm or kill them,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, head of the Justice Department. “This isn’t the first time we have discovered Iranian plots to exact revenge on Americans on American soil, and we will work tirelessly to expose and disrupt all of these efforts.”
Bolton thanked officials for uncovering the threat and tracking it down to the Iranian operative and the Secret Service for ensuring his safety.
“While much cannot be said publicly at this time,” Bolton said in a statement, “one point is unmistakable: Iran’s rulers are liars, terrorists, and enemies of the United States.” “Their radical, anti-American goals remain unchanged; their commitments are meaningless; and their global threat is growing.”
Prosecutors claimed that in October 2021, Poursafi contacted a person online looking for someone to photograph Bolton for a fictitious book project.
The US contact, identified as “Individual A” in court documents, connected Poursafi with an associate who served as a confidential source for US authorities.
According to prosecutors, Poursafi discussed about plot with the source beginning in early November 2021 and lasting until April 2022, offering $250,000 to “eliminate” the former national security official – an amount “negotiated up” to $300,000.
Poursafi told the source that he had another “job” for him that would pay $1 million.
According to court documents, the source requested Poursafi’s assistance in locating Bolton, and the Iranian operative provided Bolton’s Washington, DC, work address.
According to court documents, a search of Poursafi’s online accounts turned up “screenshots of a map application showing a street view of the former national security advisor’s office.” Poursafi was communicating from Tehran, Iran, according to a note attached to a screenshot.
“Poursafi told the (source) that it didn’t matter how the murder was carried out, but his ‘group’ would need video proof of the target’s death,” prosecutors said.
Poursafi allegedly pressurize the source on the timing of the attack for several weeks.
Poursafi allegedly sent the source a photograph of two plastic bags containing stacks of US currency, as well as a handwritten note bearing the source’s name and the date “22.12.2021.”
Poursafi allegedly expressed concern that “if it was not carried out soon, the job would be taken away from (Poursafi) and the (source).”
Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, has warned Iran not to take any further action.
“Should Iran attack any of our citizens, including those who continue to serve or have previously served, Iran will face severe consequences,” Sullivan said. “We will continue using all United States government’s resources to protect Americans.”
For more than a decade, US authorities have warned that Iran, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has been sending operatives into the US to plot terror attacks, killings, and assassinations.
The US placed the IRGC on its “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” list in 2019, as part of then-President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Despite pressure from some lawmakers, Biden decided to keep the IRGC on the terrorist blacklist this year, complicating international efforts to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The Justice Department charged two men in October 2011 in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Saudi ambassador to the US. The criminal complaint, filed in the New York, charged Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized US citizen with Iranian and US passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of the Quds Force, an IRGC special operations unit that US counterterrorism officials say sponsors and promotes terrorist activities abroad.
The plot was thwarted before federal agents could carry it out.
Arbabsiar was sentenced for 25 years in federal prison two years later for conspiring with Iranian military officials to assassinate the Saudi ambassador.
In October 2015, US authorities arrested Lebanese-French citizen Iman Kobeissi in Atlanta for allegedly arranging the sale of thousands of firearms to criminal groups in Iran and Lebanon, including Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization that frequently serves as a proxy fighting force for the IRGC.
Ali Kourani and Samer El Debek, both from New York and Michigan, were arrested in 2017 on suspicion of engaging in terrorist activities on US soil on behalf of Hezbollah and its military wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization. When Kourani was convicted in May 2019, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman stated that his “chilling mission was to assist in the procurement of weapons and gather intelligence about potential targets in the United States for future Hezballah terrorist attacks.”
According to Berman of the Southern District of New York, among the targets Kourani surveilled were JFK airport and law enforcement facilities in New York City, including the federal building at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan. “Today, Kourani was acquitted of his crimes in a courthouse that stands in the shadow of one of his potential targets,” Berman said.
An alleged operative was arrested last month with a loaded AK-47 and accused of stalking Masih Alinejad, a Brooklyn-based journalist and Iranian dissident. Four alleged Iranian spy network members were charged with plotting to kidnap Alinejad a year ago.