A member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard has been charged with developing a plot to murder former National Security Adviser John Bolton. The Justice Department announced Shahram Poursafi, working on behalf of the IRGC, tried to pay an American resident $300,000 to “eliminate” Bolton.
The Justice Department said the plot was likely designed as a revenge killing for the American missile strike that killed IRGC Commander Qasem Soleimani in January 2020.
“Iran has a history of plotting to assassinate individuals in the U.S. it deems a threat, but the U.S. Government has a longer history of holding accountable those who threaten the safety of our citizens,” said Larissa L. Knapp, executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch.
According to the DOJ, Poursafi got in touch with what investigators describe as a “confidential human source” in November 2021 by messaging them through an encrypted app. They remained in contact throughout November and December working out the details. Poursafi started applying pressure to finish the job in January 2022, in hopes of having Bolton killed by the anniversary of Soleimani’s death. Poursafi had information about Bolton’s travel schedule that the DOJ said was not publicly available, but it didn’t give details as to how he obtained the information.
The Justice Department said Poursafi also offered his confidential human source $1 million to take out a second target if they successfully killed Bolton.
Poursafi remains at large abroad but if convicted will face up to 10 years in prison for the charge of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire and 15 years in prison for the charge of providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot.
“An attempted assassination of a former U.S. Government official on U.S. soil is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, said in a statement. “The FBI will continue to identify and disrupt any efforts by Iran or any hostile government seeking to bring harm or death to U.S. persons at home or abroad.”