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The United States and Britain have imposed sanctions on a network implicated in orchestrating assassination plots against Iranian dissidents and opposition activists, as directed by Iran.

The US Treasury Department announced these sanctions on Monday, identifying the network as being under the direction of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The sanctions target 11 individuals connected to this network, including Iranian narcotics trafficker Naji Ibrahim Sharifi-Zindashti, identified as the leader.

The Treasury Department revealed that Zindashti’s network has been involved in carrying out assassinations and kidnappings in various jurisdictions, aimed at silencing critics of Tehran. Brian Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said, “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.”

The sanctions, which freeze any US assets of the individuals involved and generally prohibit Americans from engaging with them, came after revelations that the network had recruited Damion Patrick John Ryan, a member of the Hells Angels Outlaw Motorcycle Group in Canada, for assassination missions in the United States. Ryan, along with Canadian national and Hells Angels affiliate Adam Richard Pearson, was implicated in a murder-for-hire plot targeting two Maryland residents who fled Iran. Both Ryan and Pearson are currently imprisoned abroad on unrelated criminal charges.


The Department of Justice also charged Zindashti, Pearson, and Ryan with conspiracy in a murder-for-hire plot. Additionally, the sanctions address individuals linked to the assassinations of Iranian cybersecurity official and critic Mas’ud Vardanjani and British-Iranian dissident Saeed Karimian.

Simultaneously, Britain imposed sanctions on Iranian officials involved in threats against journalists in Britain and others connected to international criminal gangs linked to Iran. The British sanctions hit various individuals and one organization. Among those sanctioned are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Unit 840, reportedly involved in assassination plots against two television presenters from the news channel Iran International in Britain.


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