Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have been plotting to assassinate John Bolton, former national-security adviser in the Trump administration, says a Justice Department official with direct knowledge of the government’s investigation of the suspected plot. That is according to Tom Rogan, who reported the development in the Washington Examiner on Monday.
The DOJ source told Rogan that prosecutors have enough evidence to indict two Iranians attached to the IRGC’s Quds force, but that the Biden administration has resisted filing public charges for fear that it could derail their ongoing effort to strike a nuclear deal with Tehran.
When contacted by the Examiner, a DOJ official denied that charging decisions are driven by “these kinds of policy considerations.” Based on my own experience as a prosecutor handling matters that had foreign-relations implications, I am surprised to hear a Justice Department official say that.
Iran has also threatened former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as other former Trump officials who worked on issues related to Iran. As Rogan notes, Congress in late 2020 approved the stepping up of Pompeo’s security detail beyond his government tenure principally because of Iranian threats. There have also been reports of more robust Secret Service presence around Bolton since January. Rogan states that the suspected Iranian plot against Bolton is “believed to have precipitated [Biden] national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s Jan. 9 warning to Iran that the U.S. would protect officials ‘serving the United States now and those who formerly served.’”
For decades, as a government official in several Republican administrations and as a public commentator on foreign-policy and national-security issues, Bolton has been one of the nation’s staunchest critics of the Iranian regime, long the world’s leading state sponsor of anti-American terrorism. The IRGC is a formally designated terrorist organization under U.S. law.
When Bolton was national-security adviser, then-President Trump directed a military strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC’s Quds Force. As Rogan observes, according to current and former U.S. government officials, “the Quds Force’s current commander, Esmail Qaani, is believed to have been tasked by [Iran’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] with avenging Soleimani with the high-profile assassination of a U.S. official.”
As I have detailed in recent days (see here, here, and here), in the nuclear deal the Biden administration contemplates striking with Iran — through the intercession of Russia, even as it executes its brutal, unprovoked war in Ukraine — the president’s chief envoy, Robert Malley, is reportedly negotiating the removal of the IRGC from the U.S. government’s list of terrorist organizations. (See David Harsanyi’s profile of Malley, posted on NR yesterday.) Biden’s new Russia-Iran nuclear deal would reportedly also leave sanctions on Iran and its components, such as the IRGC, for activities such as terrorism promotion, ballistic-missile development, regional aggression, and human-rights abuses that were not covered in the 2015 Obama/Biden administration’s Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – or JCPOA). Yet, Biden officials are poised to take the position that their new deal needn’t be presented to Congress because it merely revives the JCPOA, which Congress reviewed in 2015.
As the Trump State Department detailed in the government’s long overdue 2019 designation of the IRGC, the IRGC has coordinated jihadist attacks by Iranian proxies for over 40 years. Moreover, the federal courts have found that the IRGC was principally responsible for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, in which 19 members of the U.S. Air Force were killed.
Iran has been formally designated as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984. The Quds Force was listed by the Bush Treasury Department as a specially designated global terrorist in 2007, and the Trump Treasury Department similarly listed the IRGC in 2017. Sanctions were placed on the IRGC in 2007 for its support for Iran’s ballistic-missile and nuclear programs, and in 2011 and 2012 for its abetting of Iran’s human-rights abuses.
Now, we have a purported plot to kill a prominent American security official. So, why wouldn’t we want to help the Iranians with a program that will yield nuclear weapons in short order, and in the interim help them by lifting sanctions on their anti-American terrorism so they can subsidize more anti-American terrorism — all with the help of our other negotiating partner, Vladimir Putin?
Content created by Andrew C. McCarthy
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