Two Canadians have been implicated in a recently revealed indictment for allegedly planning assassinations in the United States on behalf of Iran’s intelligence services. The accused individuals are charged with conspiring to shoot a man and a woman residing in Maryland, with one of them being a defector from Iran.
The charges, unveiled by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday, provide intricate details of the purported plot, disclosing that the prospective assassins had quoted a price of $350,000 US for the job. This development comes amidst heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, with the former contemplating retaliation following the killing of three U.S. military members in an attack by an Iran-backed militia.
One of the Canadian suspects is identified in the indictment as Damion Patrick John Ryan, a full-patch member of the Hells Angels criminal gang. Reportedly, Ryan assembled a team of gunmen in late 2020 and early 2021. He allegedly collaborated with another Canadian, Adam Richard Pearson, who was residing illegally in Minnesota during that period.
The duo was allegedly hired by an accused Iranian drug dealer operating under the directives of a specific officer within Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, according to U.S. authorities.
The indictment outlines Pearson’s assurances to recruit individuals and instruct them to repeatedly shoot the victims in the head as a means of setting an example. Additionally, he is said to have texted Ryan, expressing the need to “erase his head from his torso” in reference to one of the intended victims.
U.S. announces sanctions against network
On Monday, the United States government took a separate action by imposing financial sanctions on the network operated by the alleged drug dealer, Naji Ibrahim Sharifi-Zindashti. U.S. authorities assert that Zindashti, based in Iran, enjoys unrestricted support from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security for his criminal activities.
According to American authorities, in exchange for state protection, Zindashti’s criminal group engages in assassinations and kidnappings across multiple continents, targeting dissidents and opponents of the Iranian regime. The U.S. Treasury Department indicates that these operations were overseen by MOIS officer Reza Hamidiravari.
Brian Nelson, a U.S. Treasury official, commented on the Iranian regime’s actions, stating, “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 charges do not specify the intended targets in Maryland, but authorities confirm that the assassination plot against them was thwarted before it could be executed.
U.S. prosecutor Andrew Luger, based in Minnesota, credited the disruption of the murder-for-hire conspiracy to the skilled work of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents. Both suspects are already in custody, with Ryan held in Canada on firearms charges, and Pearson arrested by the FBI in 2021 and subsequently extradited to Canada for a murder case in Alberta from five years ago.
In the U.S., the suspects, along with Zindashti, face charges of conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in a murder-for-hire plot. Simultaneously, the U.S. and the U.K. released separate sanctions lists on Monday, identifying Iranian officials linked to killings and planned assassinations of dissidents and journalists in Turkey, the U.K., the U.S., and the Middle East.