An Iranian has been charged in a plot to assassinate former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton in which he offered an unnamed individual $300,000 in cryptocurrency to carry out the killing, announced the Department of Justice on Wednesday.
Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, 45, was indicted on a charge of using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire and a charge of providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot, according to the criminal complaint.
He is a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated terrorist group. The assassination plot was apparently in response to the January 2020 U.S. drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, who was the commander of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force.
Poursafi is on the run.
Poursafi allegedly asked a U.S. resident, identified in court documents as only “Individual A,” to take pictures of Bolton, “claiming the photographs were for a book Poursafi was writing,” according to the DOJ. Individual A allegedly “introduced Poursafi to an associate” who would take the photographs for $5,000-$10,000.
Poursafi contacted the associate and eventually offered $300,000 in cryptocurrency to “eliminate” Bolton in Washington, D.C., or Maryland. Poursafi told the source that the assassination would need to be carried out before payment was made. Poursafi explained to the associate that, according to the DOJ, “if he/she was paid and the murder was not completed, Poursafi’s ‘group’ would be angry.”
“A later search of one of Poursafi’s online accounts revealed pictures of Poursafi wearing a uniform with an IRGC patch,” according to the DOJ. During their communications, the CHS made several references to Poursafi being tied to the Quds Force. Poursafi never denied his association with the Quds Force.
Citing “results from the search of one of Poursafi’s online accounts, on Nov. 25, 2021,” according to the DOJ, “Poursafi took screenshots of a map application showing a street view of” Bolton’s office in Washington. Poursafi told the associate it didn’t “matter how the murder was carried out, but his ‘group’ would require video confirmation of the target’s death.” Poursafi gave this individual a second job that would be in exchange for $1 million but to “keep [Bolton] in the back of your mind.”
“The Justice Department has the solemn duty to defend our citizens from hostile governments who seek to hurt or kill them,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division in a statement. “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.”
In a statement posted on his Twitter page, Bolton thanked the DOJ, the FBI and the Secret Service.
I wish to thank the Justice Dept 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 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.
If convicted, Poursafi faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire and a maximum of 15 years behind bars and a fine of $250,000 for providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot.
Watch above, via MSNBC.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org