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The Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against an Iranian operative for an alleged plot to assassinate former Trump administration national security adviser John Bolton.
“While much cannot be said publicly right now, one point is indisputable: Iran’s rulers are liars, terrorists and enemies of the United States,” Bolton said in a statement after the DOJ announcement.
Shahram Poursafi, a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is wanted by the FBI for the plot to kill Bolton, which U.S. officials said was likely planned in retaliation for the January 2020 strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, a revered Iranian leader and the head of Iran’s Quds Force.
“The Justice Department has the solemn duty to defend our citizens from hostile governments who seek to hurt or kill them,” Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a press release. “This is not the first time we have uncovered Iranian plots to exact revenge against individuals on U.S. soil and we will work tirelessly to expose and disrupt every one of these efforts.”
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According to the DOJ release, Poursafi approached a U.S. resident he had met online and asked for pictures of the former national security adviser, claiming they would be used for a book he was writing. The resident connected Poursafi to someone willing to take the pictures for $5,000-$10,000.
Poursafi then contacted another person over encrypted messaging applications and offered $250,000 to hire someone to “eliminate” Bolton, an amount that was eventually negotiated to $300,000. Poursafi also alluded to another “job” in the future, noting that it would pay $1 million.
Poursafi then guided the individual on how to carry out the operation, noting that the use of a small weapon would require the individual to get close to the former Trump administration adviser.
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“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, through the Defendant, tried to hatch a brazen plot: assassinate a former U.S. official on U.S. soil in retaliation for U.S. actions,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia in the press release. “Iran and other hostile governments should understand that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will do everything in our power to thwart their violent plots and bring those responsible to justice.”