USA v. Poursafi, Shahram
Washington, DC, DC
An Iranian national and member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was charged by complaint, unsealed in August 2022 in the District of Columbia, with use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire and with providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot. Beginning in October 2021, Shahram Poursafi, aka Mehdi Rezayi, 45, of Tehran, Iran, attempted to arrange the murder of former National Security Advisor John Bolton, likely in retaliation for the January 2020 death of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qasem Soleimani. Poursafi, working on behalf of the IRGC-QF, attempted to pay individuals in the United States $300,000 to carry out the murder in Washington, D.C. or Maryland. On Oct. 22, 2021, Poursafi asked Individual A, a U.S. resident whom Poursafi previously met online, to take photographs of the former National Security Advisor, claiming the photographs were for a book Poursafi was writing. Individual A told Poursafi that he/she could introduce Poursafi to another person who would take the pictures for $5,000-$10,000. Individual A later introduced Poursafi to an associate (referred to in court documents as the confidential human source or CHS). On Nov. 14, 2021, the CHS asked Poursafi for help locating the former National Security Advisor. Poursafi subsequently provided the CHS with the target's work address in Washington, D.C. According to results from the search of one of Poursafi's online accounts, on Nov. 25, 2021, Poursafi took screenshots of a map application showing a street view of the former National Security Advisor's office. One screenshot noted that the address was "10,162 km away," which is the approximate distance between Washington, D.C. and Tehran, Iran. On Nov. 19, 2021, Poursafi told the CHS that it did not matter how the murder was carried out, but his "group" would require video confirmation of the target's death. The CHS asked Poursafi what would happen if the killing was attributed to Iran. Poursafi told the CHS not to worry and that Poursafi's "group" would take care of it. On Dec. 29, 2021, Poursafi asked the CHS when the murder would be carried out and informed the CHS that his "group" wanted it done quickly. On Jan. 3, 2022, Poursafi noted he was under pressure from "his people" to complete the murder and that Poursafi had to report any delays. On Feb. 1, 2022, Poursafi told the CHS that if he/she did not eliminate the target within two weeks, the job would be taken from the CHS. He also informed the CHS that someone checked the area around the former National Security Advisor's home, and he believed there was not a security presence, so the CHS should be able to "finish the job." If convicted, Poursafi faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 for the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, and up to 15 years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 for providing and attempting to provide material support to a transnational murder plot. Poursafi remains at large abroad.