The US Justice Department has announced criminal charges against an Iranian man, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), in connection to an alleged plot to assassinate former US national security adviser John Bolton.
According to a press release issued yesterday, Shahram Poursafi of Tehran, who also goes by the name Mehdi Rezayi attempted to arrange the murder of Bolton, "likely in retaliation" for the assassinate of IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in January 2020.
Prosecutors allege that Poursafi, who was in Iran, "attempted to pay individuals in the United States $300,000 to carry out the murder in Washington DC or Maryland".
"Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, through the Defendant, tried to hatch a brazen plot: assassinate a former U.S. official on U.S. soil in retaliation for U.S. actions," said US Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia.
"Iran and other hostile governments should understand that the U.S. Attorney's Office and our law enforcement partners will do everything in our power to thwart their violent plots and bring those responsible to justice."
However, the Iranian government has dismissed the accusations as stemming from a "failed policy of Iranophobia".
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kan'ani told reporters yesterday afternoon that "the spinning of these threadbare and baseless myths is becoming a recurring custom in the American judicial and propaganda system."
"This time, the process has been advanced by creating scenarios involving politically bankrupt and worthless individuals like Bolton."
The spokesman added that "such baseless claims are made with political motives and aims and in fact amount to … escaping the responsibility of responding to numerous terrorist crimes that the American government has either directly participated in, such as the cowardly assassination of Lt. General Martyr Soleimani, or like the terrorist crimes committed by the Zionist regime and terrorist groups like Daesh with the support of America."
Known for his hawkish stance on foreign policy, Bolton has served under the administration of former Presidents Donald Trump and George W. Bush and has previously called for pre-emptive military action against Iran. In 2015 Bolton wrote an op-ed that appeared in the New York Times, entitled "To stop Iran's bomb, bomb Iran".
Following Soleimani's assassination, Iran has repeatedly vowed revenge unless Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were put on trial. US officials have also said that the country is looking to kill one or more US officials.
Speaking at the sidelines of Soleimani's massive state funeral, the commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, said that even the killing of Trump would not be sufficient retribution.
"None of these have the same value as the blood of this martyr," he noted. "The only thing that can compensate the blood of this martyr is the complete destruction of America in the region."