A member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard was charged with a plot to murder former national security adviser John Bolton, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
Shahram Poursafi, 45, of Tehran, is accused of attempting to arrange Bolton's murder, likely in retaliation for the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in January 2020. The Justice Department said that Poursafi, who goes by Mehdi Rezayi, tried to get $300,000 from individuals in the United States to carry out the murder in Washington, D.C. or Maryland.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department's National Security Division said that the Justice Department has the sole duty to defend citizens from hostile governments who try to hurt or kill them. 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 each of these efforts. Poursafi, who is still at large, was charged with the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot.
Bolton thanked the U.S. authorities for tracking the threat and bringing criminal charges in a statement.
He added that Iran's rulers are liars, terrorists and enemies of the United States, and that is something that can't be said publicly right now. Their radical anti-American objectives are unchanged, their commitments are worthless, and their global threat is growing. The charges were brought more than 2 years after the U.S. killed Soleimani in an airstrike near Baghdad International Airport. Soleimani's secretive Quds Force, a division of the Revolutionary Guard, is widely believed to support many terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah.
Iran has called the killing a terrorist act and sanctioned several current and former U.S. officials in response.
In April, Secretary of State Antony Blinken admitted to Congress that there were threats against former U.S. officials.
Asked if the Revolutionary Guard is actively trying to murder former high officials in the United States, Blinken said: I am not sure what I can say in an open setting, but let me say generically, that there is an ongoing threat against American officials, both present and past. Blinken said at the Senate Foreign Relations hearing that we are making sure, and we will make sure that we protect our people, present and former, if they are under threat.
In January, Iran announced that it would punish about 50 Americans, days after the second anniversary of Soleimani's killing. The sanctions were brought against Bolton, former President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others for what Iran said was the role that they played in the terrorist act of the United States against Martyr General Ghasem Soleimani and his companions. National security advisor Jake Sullivan said at the time that the United States of America will protect and defend its citizens. We have our disagreements on politics as Americans. We have disagreements about Iran policy. We are united in our resolve against threats and provocations. We are united in the defense of our people.