A Syria-based commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Qods (Quds) extraterritorial force was behind a failed operation to assassinate two former US officials.

Hacktivist group Backdoor (3ackd0or) provided Iran International with documents that proves Mohammad-Reza Ansari, was one of the commanders of the Quds Force unit 840 based in Syria who led the operation to assassinate former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security advisor John Bolton, apparently in retaliation for the US targeted killing of top IRGC commander General Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani was killed in Baghdad along with nine others in January 2020 by a drone strike ordered by President Donald Trump, a huge blow to the regime, which was heavily dependent on him to lead its proxies across the region. Many Islamic Republic officials and military commanders have vowed revenge for Soleimani, and every year around the time of his death anniversary, such threats are echoed by the regime.

According to the leaked documents, an IRGC envoy went to Washington January 16, 2022, to carry out the plan, but the IRGC was not unaware that an individual hired to kill Bolton in exchange for $300,000 was actually an FBI informant.

The planner of the botched plot, who had recruited agents in the United States, was Shahram Poursafi, who was charged by the Department of Justice in August with plotting to assassinate Bolton. Poursafi is a 46-year-old Quds Force officer operating under the pseudonym "Mehdi Rezaei".

Former US national security advisor John Bolton

The Justice Department statement cited court documents suggesting Poursafi launched the 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.

Poursafi, who is at large, had told the hired “killer” about the job that it did not matter how the murder was carried out but that he would need video confirmation of Bolton’s death. He had emphasized that it is better to assassinate Bolton before the second anniversary of Qassem Soleimani's death. Poursafi also promised the person to pay $1 million for his next target, who was supposed to be Pompeo. Poursafi is now apparently in Iran and participates in clubhouse chat rooms with his photo and under the name of "Mehdi Rezaei," defending the policies of the IRGC and the Islamic Republic. 

Poursafi, along with Mohammad Hossein Shahmoradi an intelligence commander in Tehran and Abolfazl Alizade, is a member of the team headed by Mohammad Reza Ansari, who is one of the commanders of Unit 840 of the Quds Force and is stationed in Syria. 

Unit 840 is a very secretive group within the Quds Force and there are usually no photos of its members available. The unit’s mission is to conduct operations against Western targets and Iranian opposition groups and individuals. There is no mention of Unit 840 in Iranian media. The existence of such a unit has only been reported by Israeli media which in November 2020 reported that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) had accused Unit 840 of placing explosives at the Syrian border. Colonel Hassan Sayyad-Khodaei, who was shot dead behind the wheel of his car outside his home in Tehran on May 2022 was one of the previous commanders of the elite Qods Unit 840.

IITV News (12) - DC
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IITV News (12) - DC

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