An Iranian agent, supported by the Iranian government, attempted to hire two members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club to assassinate two Maryland residents, as revealed in a federal indictment. This plot is part of a series of Iranian government-backed attempts to silence regime critics globally, including within the United States. The indictment, alongside sanctions announced by the U.S. Treasury Department, targets a network led by Iranian narcotics trafficker Naji Ibrahim Sharifi-Zindashti, who has been implicated in a series of international assassinations and kidnappings on behalf of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security since 2017.
The involved parties, Zindashti and two Canadians, conspired between December 2020 and March 2021 to execute the murders, using encrypted communication to plan the logistics, discuss victim identities, and negotiate payment. The plot to assassinate the Maryland residents, one of whom had defected from Iran to the U.S., underscores the ongoing efforts by the Iranian regime to target dissidents worldwide. The U.S. Treasury Department has taken multiple actions against Iranian transnational assassination plots, highlighting the regime’s increasing reliance on organized criminal groups to carry out operations while attempting to maintain deniability.