A member of Iranian Revolutionary Guard was charged Wednesday with planning to assassinate John Bolton, the former United States National Security Advisor.

A statement from the US Justice Department alleged Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, 45, had attempted to pay “individuals in the United States” $300,000 to carry out the killing, “likely in retaliation for the January 2020 death of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qasem Soleimani.”

Bolton was National Security Advisor April 2018-September 2019 and was not in the post when President Donald Trump authorized the drone strike in Baghdad in which Soleimani and nine others died. The United Nations special rapporteur judged Soleimani’s death “unlawful killing.”

The Justice Department statement cited court documents suggesting Poursafi launched a plan to kill Bolton, either in Washington, the District of Columbia, or Maryland in October 2021 by asking an unnamed individual – whom he met online – to take photographs of Bolton, ostensibly for a book Poursafi was writing. The individual concerned introduced Poursafi to a second person whom he offered $250,000, later increased to $300,00, to eliminate the ex-presidential advisor.

FBI poster of Shahram Poursafi wanted for plot to kill John Bolton

This second person, identified by the Justice Department statement as a “source” for the criminal investigation, was told by Poursafi there was an additional “job” for which he would be paid $1 million. During communications, the statement said, the source referred several times to Poursafi being “associated with IRGC-QF,” which it said Poursafi never denied.

According to the statement, Poursafi then provided the source with Bolton’s work address. The statement did not explain why the alleged plot, which was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington Field Office, was never carried out, nor whether Poursafi had conducted the whole scheme virtually without even entering the US.

Poursafi ‘at large abroad’

“If convicted, Poursafi faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 for the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire, and up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 for providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot,” the Justice Department statement noted. It added that Pousafi “remains at large abroad.”

The Washington Examiner in March alleged that the Biden administration had blocked the Justice Department from taking action over an Iranian plot to kill Bolton in order not to derail Vienna talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The State Department January informed Congress there was a “specific threat” from Iran against Brian Hook, Trump’s special Iran envoy at the time Soleimani was killed.

Earlier this month, women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad was told by the FBI that a man arrested near her Brooklyn home with an assault rifle had been sent by Iran to kill her. Alinejad, who became a successful author and doyen of US-funded media since leaving Iran 2009, was the target last year of a kidnap plot that remains a live criminal case with defendant Niloufar Bahadorifar still to face court after her arrest in July 2021.

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