Iranian charged with plot to assassinate former US official — Analysis
According to the US, an Iranian national paid money for John Bolton’s murder.
A US Department of Justice Wednesday indicted John Bolton as an Iranian national for allegedly ordering the hit. In March, rumors of the plot surfaced in the media. It was also suggested that there were concerns about the Biden administration not wanting to press charges in light of continuing nuclear negotiations with Tehran.
According to the DOJ, a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was charged with commissioning a murder-for-hire and providing material support to a transnational murder plot. A Randi Beck FBI Special Agent signed an affidavit and it was submitted to the US magistrate judge August 5. It identified Shahram Poursafi (45) with a well-known alias Mehdi Rezayi.
Poursafi, a reputed conspirator in the murder of Bolton beginning in October 2021. “likely in retaliation”The January 2020 drone assassination IRGC-Quds Force Gen Qassem Sleimani. DOJ claims he offered to pay $300,000 for the execution of this hit. The affidavit however identifies the purported attacker as “A.” “confidential human source” – an informant – for the FBI.
“An attempted assassination of a former US government official on US soil is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “This should serve as a warning to any others attempting to do the same – the FBI will be relentless in our efforts to identify, stop, and bring to justice those who would threaten our people and violate our laws.”
Matthew Graves was the District of Columbia’s federal attorney. He called it “a “brazen plot,” while Larissa Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch claimed Iran “has a history of plotting to assassinate individuals in the US it deems a threat.”
Bolton issued a statement thanking DOJ, FBI and US Secret Service for all their work.
“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 stated. “Their radical, anti-American objectives are unchanged; their commitments are worthless; and their global threat is growing.”
Long-standing advocate for “regime change” in Iran, Bolton was appointed President Donald Trump’s national security adviser in April 2018. Trump had pulled out from 2015’s nuclear deal with Iran within one month. Though he was fired in September 2019 and became a bitter critic of Trump, in January 2020 Bolton cheered Soleimani’s assassination as the “first step to regime change in Tehran.”
President Joe Biden’s administration has publicly said it wanted to restore the deal, but its negotiators have refused Tehran’s request to first lift the sanctions Trump had imposed. In March, the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner reported that the DOJ had “indictable evidence”An Iranian national was accused of plotting to assassinate Bolton. However, officials from Biden resisted an indictment “for fear that it could derail their drive for a nuclear deal with Iran.”
According to the DOJ release, the FBI searched one of Poursafi’s online accounts and found a picture of him wearing a uniform with an IRGC patch. It was Poursafi’s informant, who kept referring to him as a member IRGC. However, it turned out that the Iranian “never denied his involvement”With the company.
Poursafi also allegedly provided the informant with Bolton’s address in Washington, DC and took screenshots of a map showing the street view of Bolton’s office. This was confirmed by “the search of one of Poursafi’s online accounts,”According to the DOJ, the screenshots indicated that the address was at “the approximate distance between Washington, DC and Tehran, Iran.”
When Poursafi was told by the informant that Bolton could be in Washington during January, Iran allegedly said that it wasn’t the case. This provided Poursafi with “specifics regarding the former National Security Advisor’s schedule that do not appear to have been publicly available,”According to the DOJ.
Poursafi can face 25 years behind bars and up to $500,000 in fines, if convicted. He was released on bail. “remains at large abroad.”