Ongoing Iranian revenge plot considered a “credible” threat to former President Donald Trump and administration officials disrupted by FBI after hefty sum laid out for hitman.
(Video: CBS News)
While the Abraham Accords could be considered the most pivotal foreign policy accomplishment during Trump’s White House tenure, it was far from his only achievement in the Middle East. In fact, according to reports from United States intelligence officers who spoke with CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” years removed from office and the ordered drone strike to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the regime in Tehran has continued plotting retaliation in the form of assassination attempts.
Narrating over a video that had first appeared on Telegram in Jan. 2023 depicting Trump and officials from his administration like then-Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley and one-time national security advisor John Bolton, interspersed with methods of murder like guns and poison, Lesley Stahl explained, “This video was posted online by a channel affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. It vows to kill former American government officials — including President Trump — to avenge the 2020 U.S. assassination of the terrorism mastermind Qassem Soleimani.”
“Threats like this have been deemed credible enough that several of these officials have been under round-the-clock protection, including former Defense Secretary Mike Esper, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — Iran reportedly offered a hitman a million dollars to kill him; and John Bolton,” who told Stahl, “They bargained the price for me would be $300,000, which I have to say I found insulting.”
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) had shared the video on social media at the time of its publication as the images were broken up with a message that stated, “The perpetrators of general Soleimani martyrdom will be punished for their actions.”
“We will determine how and when to punish coming soon …” it concluded.
#ICYMI: IRGC-Affiliated Telegram Channel Threatens to Kill Trump, Top U.S. Defense Officials, with Guns, Bombs, Poison in Retribution for Qasem Soleimani Assassination #Iran #terrorism pic.twitter.com/d9ks3gx8e8
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) January 13, 2023
When asked about a specific plot against him Bolton detailed, “The Revolutionary Guard sought to procure either my kidnapping or my assassination, not directly by a Revolutionary Guard’s member, but by seeking a hitman, who would carry out the job either in the U.S. or abroad.”
According to the report from CBS News, the assassin that had been hired targeting the one-time ambassador to the United Nations had been an FBI informant and arrest warrant had been issued for the Iranian officer behind the plot, Sharam Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi.
“This was not internet chatter. This was a negotiation to murder and American citizen, a former government official,” Bolton told Stahl and added of the ongoing threat, “We’ve got marked Secret Service cars that say, ‘Police. United States Secret Service,’ outside my home.”
Had the hit been successful and the U.S. official had been assassinated in his garage in Washington, D.C., the report indicated that an additional “job” for the sum of $1 million had been promised.
Before speaking with Masih Alinejad, a leader of the women’s revolt against forced head coverings for women in Iran who expressed, “The idea behind assassination plot, behind kidnapping plot is to keep you silent,” Stahl detailed, “We talked to the FBI and several intelligence agencies and they told us that Iran’s efforts are becoming more frequent and bolder. And that they often go after vocal Iranian activists living abroad.”
Of the domestic concerns, Bolton assessed, “I think we have lost deterrence. And I think this also goes to an unwillingness on the part of the [Biden] administration to confront the Ayatollahs in a way that they understand.”