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US Justice Department accuses Iran of attempted assassination of John Bolton

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 informed 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.

Poursafi, who has not been arrested and remains at large, 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 him to take photos of Bolton “for a book Poursafi was writing”, according to court documents.

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, prosecutors said. Poursafi also allegedly suggested that 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.

“Annoyed by the low price”

Bolton — Trump’s national security adviser from April 2018 until Trump fired him in September 2019 via Twitter — 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,” he said. “Their radical, anti-American goals are unchanged; their commitments are worthless; and their global threat is growing.”

Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Wednesday night, Bolton joked that he was “embarrassed by the low price” reportedly offered for the assassination.

The former national security adviser said he had “a general understanding of what the threat was” from Iran for a long time, but had learned many details of the assassination plot from documents released by the Department of Justice earlier today.

“I think it’s absolutely correct to say that many other Americans are in the targets of this regime. It tells you what the regime is. It tells you about its character,” Bolton said.

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. Turning to the current administration, Bolton called on Biden to end efforts to revert to the Iran nuclear deal, from which the United States withdrew in 2018 while Bolton was national security adviser.

“Frankly, from my perspective, the regime’s terrorist activities are just the flip side of its nuclear weapons program, and any idea that this regime will live up to its commitments on anything is just a terrible illusion,” Bolton told Blitzer.

Bolton said he was unaware that Pompeo was also targeted, but it came as no surprise to him.

“I think a significant number of people are vulnerable to these Iranian efforts. And unfortunately, I’m afraid we know more,” he said.

Security provided

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 close to him 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 failed assassinations there and here, including the failed plot against the former Saudi foreign minister at a DC restaurant in 2011,” threats should be taken seriously.”

Several current and former US officials continue to enjoy significant personal security due to Iran’s IRGC threats, according to a source directly familiar with All Protected Persons. Security is provided by the US government, the source said.

Several IRGC plots continue to be investigated, the source said, including threats against senior military officials who could be seen as Soleimani equivalents.

The IRGC has set the assassination goal, but there are competing factions within the organization trying to carry out various plots. The plot involving Bolton is just one element, the source noted.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Wednesday that the “Islamic Republic of Iran strongly warns against any action against Iranian citizens under the pretext of these ridiculous accusations and emphasizes that it reserves the right to take any action within the framework of international law to defend the rights” of the government and citizens, according to state information IRNA.

This story was updated with additional developments on Wednesday.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc, Barbara Starr, Hamdi Alkhshali, Josh Campbell and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.


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