National Security

Member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard charged in plot to kill John Bolton

The Department of Justice (DOJ) charged an Iranian national and member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday with planning to hire someone to kill former national security adviser John Bolton. 

The DOJ said in a release that Shahram Poursafi started planning to murder Bolton in October, likely in retaliation for the United States’ January 2020 drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force. 

The release says that Poursafi attempted to pay people $300,000 to kill Bolton in Washington, D.C., or Maryland. 

“The Justice Department has the solemn duty to defend our citizens from hostile governments who seek to hurt or kill them,” said Matthew Olsen, the assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s national security division. “This is not the first time we have uncovered Iranian plots to exact revenge against individuals on U.S. soil and we will work tirelessly to expose and disrupt every one of these efforts.” 

The release states that Poursafi asked a U.S. resident he met online to take photographs of Bolton in October, ostensibly for a book he was writing. The resident told Poursafi that they could introduce him to another person who would take the photos; that person was identified in court documents as a “confidential human source.” 

Poursafi offered the source money the next month to “eliminate” Bolton and said he had another job that he would be willing to pay $1 million for. He repeatedly referenced a “group” he belonged to that would be angry if Bolton was not killed and said the group would require video confirmation of Bolton’s death. 

In January, Poursafi told the source that he regretted that the killing would not occur by the anniversary of Soleimani’s death on Jan. 3, according to the DOJ.

Poursafi could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted of using interstate commerce facilities to commission a murder-for-hire scheme and up to15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted of attempting to provide material support for a transnational murder plot.

“Should Iran attack any of our citizens, to include those who continue to serve the United States or those who formerly served, Iran will face severe consequences,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement after the charges were unsealed, adding that the Biden administration “will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism.”

–Updated at 1:14 p.m.

Tags assassination plot Iran Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps John Bolton murder-for-hire Qasem Soleimani Qassem Soleimani

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