The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in connection with an alleged assassination plot against former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton. Axios reported later on Wednesday that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been informed that he was a second target of the alleged plot.
According to prosecutors, Iranian national and IRGC member Shahram Poursafi offered $300,000 to hire someone to “eliminate” Bolton, who while in the Trump administration helped lead an effort to exert “maximum pressure” against Iran in the form of sanctions and threats for its alleged support of terrorism.
Prosecutors said Poursafi contacted a person whom the Justice Department referred to as a “confidential human source” and offered first $250,000, then $300,000 to kill Bolton. Poursafi also mentioned he had another “job” for the source and would pay $1 million for it. The other job, according to Axios, was killing Pompeo. Poursafi then directed the individual to open a cryptocurrency account to facilitate payment and helped the source locate Bolton by sharing his work address in Washington, D.C.
Poursafi is currently at large abroad, officials said. If he is caught and convicted, Poursafi faces up to 10 years in prison for use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. He also could face 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.
Bolton released a statement through his office responding to the indictment. “While much cannot be said publicly right now, one point is indisputable: Iran’s rulers are liars, terrorists, and enemies of the United States,” he said. “Their radical, anti-American objectives are unchanged; their commitments are worthless; and their global threat is growing.”
The Justice Department believes the plot to kill Bolton was “likely” in retaliation for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, who led Iran’s elite Quds Force. Soleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad airport during the Trump administration. The department’s assistant attorney general for national security, Matthew G. Olsen, said that the case was “not the first time we have uncovered Iranian plots to exact revenge against individuals on U.S. soil,” adding, “We will work tirelessly to expose and disrupt every one of these efforts.”