| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

US sanctions Iranians over plots to kill John Bolton, others

The US imposed sanctions Thursday on an Iranian Revolutionary Guard official and others it says took part in wide-ranging plots to kill former national security adviser John Bolton and others around the world, including at least one additional US government official.

The alleged 2021 plot against Bolton, one of the best-documented of the alleged assassination efforts, is part of what US prosecutors and former government officials describe as ongoing efforts by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to kill Trump-era officials behind a 2020 US airstrike that killed the head of the Iranian guard’s elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, The Associated Press reported.

In all, Thursday’s sanctions accuse three people, a company affiliated with Iran’s Quds Force and two senior officials of Iran’s Intelligence Organization in global plots to kill former US officials, journalists and Iranian dissidents abroad, according to the US Treasury Department.

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement the US is focused on disrupting plots by the Iranian military, which has “engaged in numerous assassination attempts and other acts of violence and intimidation against those they deem enemies of the Iranian regime.”

Those sanctioned include Revolutionary Guard official Shahram Poursafi. US prosecutors charged Poursafi last year with seeking to carry out a murder-for-hire, saying he worked to find a US-based person willing to kill Bolton somewhere in the Washington area for $300,000.

Federal prosecutors say Poursafi also spoke of an “additional job” for which he was offering $1 million. Axios reported last year that the second target was former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing sources close to Pompeo. US officials have reported “serious and credible” threats against the lives of Pompeo and his top Iran aide.

Poursafi remains wanted by the FBI in the alleged plots.

Prosecutors say the scheme against Bolton unfolded more than a year after Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike as he traveled from Baghdad’s international airport in January 2020.

After the strike, Bolton, who by then had left his White House post, tweeted, “Hope this is the first step to regime change in Tehran.”

Pompeo and former top Iran envoy Brian Hook both played a role in the Trump administration’s decision to kill Soleimani and led the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran after President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2014 nuclear deal with Iran.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat