Mike Pompeo, who served as secretary of state in the Trump administration, was among the targets of an assassination plot by a member of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The United States charged an IRGC member Wednesday with plotting to murder John Bolton, the national security adviser to former President Donald Trump.
While Pompeo was not mentioned by name in the Department of Justice's criminal complaint, reports are saying he is the other official targeted.
"A source close to former Secretary of State Pompeo confirmed for me in the last few minutes that Pompeo was the additional official targeted for assassination by the Iranians. So we know of two targets: Bolton and Pompeo," CNBC's Eamon Javers tweeted Wednesday evening. "Bolton said on CNN tonight he fears there are more."
The Justice Department alleged that Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, 45, of Tehran, was likely motivated to kill Bolton in retaliation for the death of IRGC Commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in January 2020.
"Imagine if Russia or China was actively plotting to kill former Trump officials on U.S. soil - I'm willing to bet the Biden Administration would do a lot more than just release a statement. The Biden Administration statements aren't worth the paper they are printed on. I again call on President Biden to cease all diplomatic efforts with the Regime in Tehran and to immediately pivot back to maximum pressure and maximum sanctions." said Bryan E. Leib, Executive Director of Iranian Americans for Liberty
According to the criminal complaint, Poursafi asked a U.S. resident identified only as "Individual A" to take photographs of Bolton, under the guise that the photos were needed for a forthcoming book.
The U.S. resident then introduced Poursafi to a covert government informant who would take the photographs for a price.
The following month, investigators said Poursafi contacted the informant on an encrypted messaging application, and offered the person $250,000 to hire someone to "eliminate" Bolton — an amount that would later be negotiated up to $300,000.
Iran does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, and Poursafi remains at large. The FBI on Wednesday released a most-wanted poster.
Tehran condemned the U.S. move.
"Iran strongly warns against any action against Iranian citizens under the pretext of these ridiculous and baseless accusations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.
Washington does not believe the charges should affect talks with Tehran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
However, it was not clear how the Revolutionary Guard - a powerful political faction in Iran which controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of a global terrorist campaign - might react to the charges.
Indirect talks between the United States and Iran wrapped up in Vienna on Monday with European Union officials saying they had put forward a final text to resuscitate the nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned in 2018.
According to the criminal complaint, Poursafi asked a U.S. resident identified only as "Individual A" to photograph Bolton, under the guise that the photos were needed for a forthcoming book. The U.S. resident then introduced Poursafi to a covert government informant who could take the photographs for a price.
Investigators said the following month Poursafi contacted the informant on an encrypted messaging application and offered the person $250,000 to hire someone to "eliminate" Bolton - an amount that would later be negotiated up to $300,000.
When the informant asked Poursafi to be more specific in his request, he said he wanted "the guy" purged and provided Bolton's first and last name, according to a sworn statement in support of the complaint.
He later directed the informant to open a cryptocurrency account to facilitate the payment.
In subsequent communications, he allegedly told the informant it did not matter how the killing was carried out, but that his "group" would require a video as proof that the deed was done.
Multiple current and former U.S. officials have extra security due to Iranian threats, CNN reported.
"I think it's quite correct to say many other Americans are in the targets of this regime," Bolton told the network. "It tells you what the regime is. It tells you about its character."
Information from Reuters was used in this report.
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