Two Canadians Implicated In Iranian Transnational Assassinations Network

The United States and the United Kingdom have announced sanctions against a network accused of orchestrating assassinations and kidnappings of Iranian opposition activists. They also allege that two Canadian men, connected to Hells Angels group, engaged with the network in a murder-for-hire scheme.

The US Treasury Department identified the network as being directed by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and imposed sanctions on 11 individuals linked to this operation. Among those sanctioned is Iranian narcotics trafficker Naji Ibrahim Sharifi-Zindashti, believed to be the leader of the network.

“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,” Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, condemned these actions. 

The Treasury’s report detailed the network’s involvement in various criminal activities. Notably, it mentioned the recruitment of Damion Patrick John Ryan, a Canadian national and member of the Hells Angels Outlaw Motorcycle Group, in 2021 for the purpose of assassinating Iranian dissidents in the United States. 

“In 2021, Zindashti’s network recruited Canadian national and British Columbia-based Hells Angels Outlaw Motorcycle Group member Damion Patrick John Ryan to assassinate individuals in the United States who fled Iran,” the statement said. “Ryan also recruited Canadian national and Hell’s Angels affiliate Adam Richard Pearson to carry out the murders.”

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is actively investigating this alleged conspiracy, with assistance from both the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada. 

Ryan, 43, and Pearson, 29, are currently detained abroad on unrelated criminal charges, according to the Treasury.

This move by the US and UK governments aims to freeze the assets of those involved and prohibit any dealings with them by American citizens.

These sanctions coincide with escalating tensions in the Middle East, following accusations by the US and UK of Iran-backed groups conducting a drone attack near Jordan’s border with Syria, which resulted in the death of three US military personnel.

The UK government, led by Foreign Secretary David Cameron, imposed sanctions on Iranian officials and members of criminal gangs accused of posing threats to UK security, including plans to kill journalists on British soil. The UK Foreign Office announced sanctions against seven individuals and one organization, emphasizing a joint stance with the US in confronting these security threats.

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