US Justice Department accuses Iran of attempted assassination of John Bolton

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The alleged plot was “likely in retaliation” for the January 2020 US airstrike that killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani, the Justice Department said. After the strike, leaders of the terror organization vowed “revenge on the Americans” for Soleimani’s death and publicly denounced then-President Donald Trump and other top officials in his administration.

Prosecutors said Shahram Poursafi, a 45-year-old Iranian national and IRGC member, tried to pay an individual in the United States $300,000 to kill Bolton and said he had a “second job” for 1 million bucks.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also a target in the Iranian assassination plot, according to a federal law enforcement source close to the investigation and a source close to Pompeo. The “second job” referred to Pompeo, the source close to Pompeo said.

A known Iranian political hawk, Pompeo was Trump’s secretary of state at the time of the airstrike that killed Soleimani. He was notified directly by the Justice Department last Wednesday that he was the second target of an IRGC assassination plot, the source close to Pompeo told CNN.

Pompeo, who also served as CIA director under Trump, has enjoyed continued security since the end of the Trump administration due to threats from Iran, the source said.

Former Ambassador Jim Jeffrey, who served as Special Representative for Syria and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS under Pompeo, said “Pompeo was central to the Trump administration’s strategy and to execution of Iranian policy as ‘Director of the CIA and Secretary of State.

Jeffrey said that “given (the) record of Iranian assassinations in Europe and aborted assassinations there and here,” including the failed plot against the former Saudi foreign minister at a DC restaurant in 2011 , “threats must be taken seriously”.

Poursafi has not been arrested and is still at large.

Poursafi first contacted the US-based individual – who was secretly working as an FBI informant, also known as a “confidential human source”, or CHS – and asked them to take pictures of Bolton “to a book Poursafi was writing,” the court documents say.

He then asked if the informant could hire someone to “take out someone”, who later turned out to be Bolton, and promised to protect the CHS and the killer, according to prosecutors. Poursafi also allegedly suggested the murder should be committed “in a car”, provided the CHS with an address for Bolton’s office and noted that Bolton used to walk around alone.

In November 2021, the informant traveled to Washington, D.C., and sent Poursafi photos of Bolton’s office and descriptions of the building. Poursafi reportedly said the murder had to take place in the building’s garage, as it was a “high traffic” area.

Poursafi was charged with using interstate commercial facilities in the commission of murder for hire, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, and with attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot. , which can lead to up to 15 years in prison. jail.

In a statement, Bolton thanked the Justice Department, FBI and Secret Service for their efforts.

“While not much can be said publicly at this time, one point is indisputable: Iran’s leaders are liars, terrorists and enemies of the United States,” Bolton said. “Their radical, anti-American goals are unchanged; their commitments are worthless; and their global threat is growing.”

Bolton served as Trump’s fourth national security adviser for just over a year, from April 2018 until Trump fired him in September 2019 via Twitter for “strongly” disagreeing with “many” suggestions from Bolton.

A warmongering neocon, Bolton had previously advocated for regime change in Iran and supported Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the multinational Iran nuclear deal.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Josh Campbell and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.

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