U.S., U.K. Pursue Network That Targeted Iranian Dissidents For Assassination At Direction Of Iranian Regime
TEHRAN, IRAN - APRIL 19: Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (not seen) meets with Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (C) and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (not seen) in Iran's capital Tehran on April 19, 2015. (Photo by Pool / Iranian Religious Leader Press Office/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

On Monday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced that in conjunction with the United Kingdom, they are pursuing a network that targeted Iranian dissidents and opposition activists for assassination at the direction of the Iranian regime.

“The network is led by Iranian narcotics trafficker Naji Ibrahim Sharifi-Zindashti (Zindashti) and operates at the behest of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS),” the Treasury Department stated. “Zindashti’s network has carried out numerous acts of transnational repression including assassinations and kidnappings across multiple jurisdictions in an attempt to silence the Iranian regime’s perceived critics. The network has also plotted operations in the United States.”

In late January, the Department of Justice indicted Zindashti, 49, Damion Patrick John Ryan, 43, and Adam Richard Pearson, 29, for a conspiracy to murder two residents of the state of Maryland, using an encrypted messaging service called “SkyECC” to recruit individuals who would travel into the United States to carry out the killings.

“The Iranian regime’s continued efforts to target dissidents and activists demonstrate the regime’s deep insecurity and attempt to expand Iran’s domestic repression internationally,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson stated. “The United States, alongside our international allies and partners, including the United Kingdom, will continue to combat the Iranian regime’s transnational repression and will utilize all available tools to stop this threat, especially on U.S. soil.”

The MOIS has supported multiple terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al-Qaeda, the Treasury Department noted, adding, “The MOIS and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have long targeted perceived regime opponents in acts of transnational repression outside of Iran, a practice that the regime has accelerated in recent years. A wide range of dissidents, journalists, activists, and former Iranian officials have been targeted for assassination, kidnapping, and hacking operations across numerous countries in the Middle East, Europe, and North America.”

“The regime increasingly relies on organized criminal groups in furtherance of these plots in an attempt to obscure links to the Government of Iran and maintain plausible deniability,” the Department pointed out.

“In 2021, Zindashti’s network recruited Canadian national and British Columbia-based Hells Angels Outlaw Motorcycle Group member Damion Patrick John Ryan (Ryan) to assassinate individuals in the United States who fled Iran. Ryan, whose criminal history ranges from firearms trafficking charges to international drug trafficking, has ties to criminal elements in Canada, the United States, and Greece. Zindashti associate Asan worked closely with Ryan to plan the assassinations, sending the location and photos of the targets, in addition to coordinating payment details. Ryan also recruited Canadian national and Hell’s Angels affiliate Adam Richard Pearson (Pearson) to carry out the murders,” the Department explained, adding, “Both Ryan and Pearson are presently incarcerated abroad on unrelated criminal matters.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  U.S., U.K. Pursue Network That Targeted Iranian Dissidents For Assassination At Direction Of Iranian Regime