Iranian Revolutionary Guard member charged in plot to assassinate John Bolton, feds say




  • In World
  • 2022-08-10 16:28:25Z
  • By Business Insider
An image of former national security adviser John Bolton, in a blazer and red tie.
An image of former national security adviser John Bolton, in a blazer and red tie.  
  • A member of the IRGC has been charged in a plot to assassinate John Bolton, the Justice Dept. said on Wednesday.

  • The plot was "likely in retaliation" for a US drone strike that killed Iran's top general in 2020, the DOJ said.

  • Bolton, a foreign policy hawk, has been an advocate for regime change in Iran.

A member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has been charged in an alleged plot to assassinate John Bolton, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

The Justice Department said that starting in October 2021, Shahram Poursafi "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."

Soleimani was Iran's top general and widely considered the most powerful figure in the Middle Eastern country after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In early 2020, then-President Donald Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Soleimani while the Iranian general was in Baghdad.

Soleimani was the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) shadowy Quds force. The IRGC is an elite military force that operates separately from Iran's conventional military. It was established in 1979 in concert with the Islamic Revolution and charged with safeguarding its ideological tenets. But the IRGC has morphed into an entity with with extensive political, military, and economic influence. The Quds force is responsible for the IRGC's foreign operations, and has been linked to armed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among other places.

The IRGC is designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US government.

Poursafi sought to pay people in the US $300,000 to "carry out the murder" in Maryland or Washington, DC, according to the Justice Department.

"If convicted, Poursafi faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 for the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, and up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 for providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot. Poursafi remains at large abroad," the DOJ said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Bolton thanked "the Justice Department for initiating the criminal proceeding unsealed today; the FBI for its diligence in discovering and tracking the Iranian regime's criminal threat to American citizens; and the Secret Service for once again providing protection against Tehran's efforts."

"While much cannot be said publicly right now, one point is indisputable: Iran's rulers are liars, terrorists, and enemies of the United States. Their radical, anti-American objectives are unchanged; their commitments are worthless; and their global threat is growing," Bolton added.

Bolton was Trump's national security advisor from April 2018 to September 2019. Throughout his career, Bolton has developed a reputation as a foreign policy hawk. He's considered an architect of the 2003 Iraq invasion, and has repeatedly advocated for regime change in Iran.

After the Soleimani strike, Bolton tweeted, "Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran."

Shortly after Bolton began working in the White House, Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Obama-era deal aimed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. After withdrawing from the landmark deal, a move Bolton strongly supported and played an instrumental role in, Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran. These moves raised tensions between Washington and Tehran to historic heights.

With the dynamic between the US and Iran already extremely contentious, the strike that killed Soleimani raised fears that a new war could be on the horizon in the Middle East. Iran retaliated by launching missiles at US forces in Iraq. No US troops were killed, but dozens were injured. Both sides ultimately stepped away from a broader conflict, but tensions remain high to this day.

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