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US Sanctions Iranian Operatives Involved in Assassination Plots Abroad

June 1, 2023
2 min read
Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Esmail Qaani in Tehran
Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Esmail Qaani in Tehran

The United States has imposed sanctions on members and affiliates of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its external operations arm who Washington accused of participating in “terrorist plots” targeting former US government officials, dual US and Iranian nationals and Iranian dissidents abroad.

The US Treasury Department said on June 1 that the move targeted three Iran- and Turkey-based individuals and a company affiliated with the IRGC-Quds Force and two senior officials of the IRGC's Intelligence Organization “involved in plotting external lethal operations against civilians including journalists and activists.”

Those targeted include Mohammad Reza Ansari, an official with a unit of the IRGC-Quds Force “tasked with undertaking covert operations abroad, including planning and conducting intelligence and lethal operations against Iranian dissidents and other non-Iranian nationals in the United States, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa,” the statement said.

“Ansari, with the support of Shahram Poursafi (Poursafi), an Iranian national, planned and attempted to assassinate two former U.S. government officials,” it added.

In August 2022, the US Justice Department announced criminal charges against Poursafi for allegedly trying to orchestrate the assassination of former national security adviser John Bolton, likely in retaliation for the killing of Quds Commander Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also a target of the assassination plot, reports said last year.

Under the sanctions, all property of the five individuals and the company subject to US jurisdiction are blocked. Carrying out transactions with them can expose actors to "secondary sanctions" under which the United States can penalize non-U.S. individuals and entities.

“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,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. 

“We will continue to expose and disrupt these terrorist activities and efforts to silence opposing voices, particularly those who advocate for respect for the universal human rights and freedoms of the Iranian people.”



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