Iranian operative Shahram Poursafi has been charged in an alleged plot to kill former National Security Adviser John Bolton, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Wednesday.
The DOJ noted in a press release that Poursafi was a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and an Iranian national. The 45-year-old is accused of attempting “to arrange the murder of” Bolton, “likely in retaliation for the January 2020 death of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — Qods Force … commander Qasem Soleimani,” according to the department.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia said in the statement. “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.” (RELATED: Is Biden Keeping A Plot To Kill A Former Trump Official Quiet So He Can Strike A Deal With Iran?)
Whoa, DOJ charges someone for an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate John Bolton… pic.twitter.com/HtLHWnzw5w
— Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) August 10, 2022
The DOJ detailed the alleged plot in its lengthy statement, writing that Poursafi first asked an unnamed individual to take photographs of Bolton back in October 2021. Poursafi allegedly claimed the photographs were related to a book he was writing, and the individual he first contacted suggested an associate could “take the pictures for $5,000-$10,000,” according to the DOJ.
Poursafi began messaging with the unnamed associate using “an encrypted messaging application” in early November 2021. Soon, according to the DOJ, he “offered the CHS [confidential human source] $250,000 to hire someone to ‘eliminate'” Bolton.
“This amount would later be negotiated up to $300,000. Poursafi added that he had an additional ‘job,’ for which he would pay $1 million,” according to the DOJ.
“Poursafi directed the CHS to open a cryptocurrency account to facilitate payment, but stipulated that the CHS would likely have to carry out the murder before he/she could be paid,” the DOJ’s statement adds. “He further explained to the CHS that 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. During their communications, the CHS made several references to Poursafi being associated with IRGC-QF. Poursafi never denied his involvement with IRGC-QF.”
The alleged assassination plot continued to unfold over the course of the next several months. In late November 2021, Poursafi allegedly told the CHS that his “group” required “video confirmation of” Bolton’s death.
As the months dragged on, communication between Poursafi and the CHS continued, with the Iranian national even threatening to give “the job” to someone else in February 2022, according to the DOJ.
In March 2022, Poursafi appeared to pivot away from the alleged plot to kill Bolton.
“On March 10, 2022, Poursafi told the CHS he had another assassination job for the CHS in the United States, but to ‘keep [the former National Security Advisor] in the back of your mind,'” the DOJ’s statement reads. “Approximately one month later, Poursafi encouraged the CHS to accept this offer, explaining that if it was done successfully, Poursafi would be able to ingratiate himself with his ‘group’ and regain the tasking to murder the former National Security Advisor.”
Ultimately, the CHS demanded Poursafi send over money as proof that he could pay for the assassination, the DOJ reported.
“Later that day, the cryptocurrency wallet received two payments totaling $100,” according to the DOJ.
Bolton, who served in former President Donald Trump’s administration, issued a statement thanking the DOJ for starting criminal proceedings in the case.
“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 wrote. “Their radical, anti-American objectives are unchanged; their commitments are worthless; and their global threat is growing.”
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. pic.twitter.com/QDjkX6gUWM
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) August 10, 2022
Poursafi is charged with the “use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire” and “providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot,” according to the criminal complaint.
The DOJ noted Poursafi is not in custody and “remains at large abroad.”