Breaking: U.S. Govt accuses Iranian intelligence and narcos of hiring B.C. Hells Angel to assassinate Iranian dissidents
"I’d suggest it would be negligent not to be looking at the Iranian threats in Canada,” former RCMP expert says of Foreign Interference Commission mandate
As Canada’s Foreign Interference Commission (FIC) hearings launch in Ottawa Monday, the U.S. government has released explosive sanctions accusing Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Iranian narco-traffickers of hiring British Columbia gangsters in 2021 to assassinate Iranian dissidents in the United States, for a $350,000 fee.
The allegations from the U.S. Treasury Department and United Kingdom tie state actors including the Iranian Guard Corps to international drug and weapons trafficking kingpins “that targeted Iranian dissidents and opposition activists for assassination at the direction of the Iranian regime.”
Calvin Chrustie, a former RCMP transnational crime investigator, said the sanctions targeting Iran’s regime and its use of gangsters in transnational repression, are proof that Canada’s FIC should be focused not only on China’s election interference, but also deadly threats to Canadian diasporas from China, Iran, India and other nations.
“The FIC focus, should include not only the influence of China on federal elections, but I’d suggest it would be negligent not to be looking at the Iranian threats in Canada,” Chrustie said.
“These networks, we can see in open reporting, the impact they have on the diaspora communities in Canada, public safety and our national security, in terms of violence and also their intimate relationship with Mexican cartel operations in Canada,” Chrustie said.
“The question Canadians need to ask, is are these the same crime networks that are also facilitating Hezbollah, Hamas and other contemporary threat activities in Canada.”
“ASSASSINATION PLOT IN THE UNITED STATES”
In a statement on these new sanctions targeting the Iranian regime, the U.S. Treasury Department pointed to a network “led by Iranian narcotics trafficker Naji Sharifi-Zindashti (that) operates at the behest of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.”
It says “Zindashti’s network has carried out numerous acts of transnational repression including assassinations and kidnappings across multiple jurisdictions in an attempt to silence the Iranian regime’s perceived critics.”
In 2021, the U.S. Treasury Department alleged, “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.”
It said that Ryan, whose “criminal history ranges from firearms trafficking charges to international drug trafficking, has ties to criminal elements in Canada, the United States, and Greece.”
In an interview Monday, Chrustie called the Hells Angels “lower level” actors in narcotics distribution that are employed by “more subtle actors, that have been too long ignored by Canadian police, intelligence and media too.”
According to Chrustie, security and intelligence actors from hostile states including China and Iran and India, leverage transnational organized crime in threats that endanger Canada.
“Our bias as a country, favours looking at lower level criminal actors like the Hells Angels, as key players,” Chrustie said. “But the bikers aren’t anywhere near the threat from Chinese, Iranian and Mexican networks.”
“The Canadian government has failed at all levels from policing up to national policy setting,” he said, “to recognize this more serious threat to Canada’s national security.”
The Treasury Department on Monday said Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are directing “accelerating” transnational repression, and that a “wide range of dissidents, journalists, activists, and former Iranian officials have been targeted for assassination, kidnapping, and hacking operations across numerous countries in the Middle East, Europe, and North America.”
It cited an unsealed Department of Justice indictment against the Iranian narco Zindashti and two Canadians.
“From December 2020 through March 2021, Naji Sharifi-Zindashti, 49, Damion Patrick John Ryan, 43, and Adam Richard Pearson, 29, conspired with each other in a plot to murder two residents of the state of Maryland,” U.S. government documents said.
Through encrypted communications, Zindashti agreed to pay Ryan, the B.C.-based Hells Angel, $350,000 for the two murders, the documents say.
And Ryan recruited his associate, Pearson.
The plot, which was uncovered and halted by U.S. investigators, included a team of Zindashti’s gunmen, “including a Minnesota resident.”
The indictment alleges that Ryan and Pearson discussed how the murders would take place, and U.S. investigators intercepted their communications.
“Pearson stated, ‘shooting is probably easiest thing for them,’ and that he was ‘on it,’” the indictment alleges.
“Ryan recommended “2 guys go with proper equipment.’ Pearson said he would encourage the recruits for the job to ‘shoot [the victim] in the head a lot [to] make example’ and that he would tell them ‘we gotta erase his head from his torso.’”
The allegations have not yet been proven in court.
Editor’s Note: This breaking story was updated on January 29, with information from the U.S. government indictment against an Iranian and two Canadian nationals.
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