Members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ covert Quds Force are reportedly planning to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton and other high-profile Americans.
According to a Washington Examiner report on Monday, a Department of Justice official familiar with the case said the DOJ has enough evidence to indict at least two Iranian Quds Force members for the assassination plot. The official told the Washington Examiner that the Biden administration is hesitant to publicly pursue a case against the Iranians, as it works to negotiate a restart of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The Washington Examiner reported similar Iranian threats have been detected against former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other officials who worked on Iran issues in President Donald Trump’s administration.
The U.S. intelligence community has reportedly been aware of the plot for some time and it prompted a full-time Secret Service protective detail to be assigned to Bolton since late 2021 or early this year. On Jan. 28, Forbes reported that the deployment of U.S. Secret Service agents to Bolton’s suburban D.C. neighborhood had caught the attention of his neighbors.
The DOJ could seek sealed indictments against the Iranians to pursue a case without public filings tipping them off. The DOJ official said, however, that such a move is unlikely and that the information against them would warrant a public indictment without any further delays.
The Washington Examiner reported it had received specific details about the plot against Bolton, including details it chose to withhold due to their sensitive nature. The DOJ official said the Iranians described the plot against Bolton in “highly specific” terms and even included efforts to recruit an assassin in the U.S.
It is unclear what specifics the DOJ has about Iranian threats to Pompeo or any other Trump-era officials.
Bolton and Pompeo were heavily disliked by Iran, for promoting the Trump-era “maximum pressure” policy against Iran, which included renewed U.S. sanctions on the country.
In January, around the two-year mark of the U.S. strike that killed Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Pompeo said he wouldn’t have changed anything about advocating for the 2020 strike despite Iran’s calls for revenge against him.
“Qasem Soleimani was actively engaged in plotting against America,” Pompeo tweeted on Jan. 3. “We took lawful military action to make sure that no Americans were killed. American leadership now has the responsibility to keep every American safe against the threat from Iran.”
In an interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Pompeo said, “I wouldn’t change a thing about what we recommended to the president. We were defending the United States of America, we were keeping the American people safe.”
It is unclear exactly why the Biden administration may be holding back on indictments against the alleged Iranian plotters.
Last week, a former U.S. State Department official who worked closely on Iran issues said Rob Malley, Biden’s pick for U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, was willing to drop numerous U.S. terrorism-related sanctions against Iran in an effort to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018.