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HomeNewsUS Officials Charge Iranian Man and Two Canadians in Murder-for-Hire Plot

US Officials Charge Iranian Man and Two Canadians in Murder-for-Hire Plot

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Federal prosecutors have charged an Iranian man, along with two Canadians, for allegedly plotting to kill two individuals, including an Iranian defector, who had sought refuge in the United States. According to the Justice Department, the criminal case is part of a disturbing trend of transnational repression.

A judge’s hand lifting the gavel.
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Operatives from countries like Iran and China target dissidents and defectors around the world through various tactics such as harassment, intimidation, and violence. According to prosecutors, Naji Sharifi Zindashti collaborated with two Canadian men between December 2020 and March 2021 to carry out the murders of two Maryland residents.

Although the intended victims were not named, they were described as defectors from Iran who had fled to the United States. Thankfully, the authorities were able to foil Zindashti’s plot.

The Justice Department’s top national security official, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, stated, “To those in Iran who plot murders on U.S. soil and the criminal actors who work with them, let today’s charges send a clear message: the Department of Justice will pursue you as long as it takes — and wherever you are — and deliver justice.”

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However, this isn’t the first time the Justice Department is handling a criminal case against Iranian-directed criminal activities against perceived political opponents. In the past, they had charged three men for a plot to assassinate an Iranian American author and activist who had been vocal about human rights abuses in Iran. They also faced charges in connection with a failed assassination plot against the former Trump administration national security adviser, John Bolton.

Assistant FBI Director Suzanne Turner of the bureau’s Counterintelligence Division emphasized the pattern of Iranian groups attempting to carry out assassinations on U.S. soil, condemning such actions as reprehensible.

“Mr. Zindashti and his accomplices’ alleged plot is reprehensible, and the FBI will not tolerate such acts against U.S. residents, and we will continue to pursue these individuals until they are brought to the U.S. to face justice,” she said.

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Amidst heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the disclosure of this case comes after a recent drone strike near the Syrian border attributed to Iran-backed militias. Three American troops were casualties. According to U.S. officials, their forces may have failed to identify an enemy drone that passed into a desert base in Jordan.

Furthermore, U.S. officials believe Zindashti to be a narcotics trafficker who is in charge of a criminal network that operates on behalf of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The network is responsible for assassinations and other acts of repression against critics of the Iranian regime around the world.

ALSO READ: U.S. Marshals Arrest Killer of Elite Bicyclist By Luring Her With an Ad for a Yoga Instructor

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In a related move, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Zindashti and his associates, prohibiting them from engaging in U.S. business transactions. Similarly, British officials have imposed sanctions and also warned Iranians about the threat to their lives.

The indictment outlines how Zindashti coordinated with the two Canadians, Damion Patrick John Ryan, and Adam Richard Pearson, to recruit potential assassins using encrypted messaging services. Ryan, a full-patch member of the outlaw Hells Angels motorcycle club, and Pearson are currently imprisoned in Canada on different charges.

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