U.S. sanctions Iranians involved in plot to kill John Bolton
by Darryl Coote
Washington DC (UPI) Jun 2, 2023
The United States is imposing punitive measures against Iranian operatives and affiliates accused of attempting to assassinate former Trump administration officials and Iranian dissidents around the world.
The sanctions were announced Thursday by the Treasury targeting three Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members and two members of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization as well as an associated airline that is believed to have assisted with covert operations.
“The United States remains focused on disrupting plots by the IRGC and its Quds Force, both of which have engaged in numerous assassination attempts and other acts of violence and intimidation against those they deem enemies of the Iranian regime,” Brian Nelson, under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.
Among those targeted Thursday with asset freezes is Shahram Poursafi, the 46-year-old Iranian charged by the Justice Department in August with plotting to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton.
Prosecutors said Poursafi, working on behalf of the Iranian military, tried to hire a hitman to kill the former Trump administration official in retaliation over the U.S. airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani of Iran’s elite Quds Force in January 2020.
Poursafi remains free and is sought by the FBI.
Mohammad Reza Ansari was also hit with sanctions Thursday for being a longtime IRGC Quds Force official and a member of its external operations unit that conducts international covert operations, including assassinations of Iranian dissidents and others in the United States, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
The Treasury on Thursday said the 47-year-old worked with Poursafi to assassinate two former U.S. government officials, including Bolton.
Hossein Hafez Amini, a 53-year-old dual Turkish and Iranian national based in Turkey, was sanctioned for using his aviation industry connections and his Turkey-based Rey Airlines to assist the IRGC Quds Force with kidnapping and assassination plots targeting dissidents in Turkey.
Rey Airlines was also sanctioned.
Rouhallah Bazghandi, former IRGC-IO chief, and Reza Seraj, the group’s foreign intelligence head, were blacklisted on accusations of being behind failed operations in Asia and intelligence operations targeting U.S. citizens.
Both the IRGC-IO and Bazghandi were designated in April over taking U.S. nationals hostage in Iran.
The sanctions free all U.S. assets of those named and bars U.S. citizens from doing business with them.
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