Iranian, two Canadians charged in murder-for-hire plot targeting Iran critics: Department of Justice


The Department of Justice on Monday indicted an Iranian man and two Canadians in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme targeting opponents and critics of the Iranian regime.

According to the newly unsealed indictmentProsecutors say Naji Zindashti conspired with two Canadian men between December 2020 and March 2021 in a failed plot to assassinate two Maryland residents.

The Justice Department said the intended victims of the plot, who were residing at the time in Maryland, had previously fled to the United States after one of them defected from Iran.

The three men allegedly used an encrypted messaging service and discussed the logistics of how to carry out the murders, communicating vaguely about “jobs”, “equipment”, tools and how to “make some money”.

Image: Seal of the Ministry of Justice.

Seal of the Ministry of Justice.

Adam Davis/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

One of the Canadian men, Damion Ryan, allegedly wrote that carrying out a murder in the United States would be difficult but that he “might have someone to do it” and recommended “two men with the right equipment.”

Another Canadian man, Adam Pearson, allegedly stated in a letter that “shooting is probably the easiest thing for them,” and said he would encourage recruits to “shoot.” [the victim] In the head a lot [to] “Make an example,” and that he would tell them, “We must erase his head from his torso.”

Zindashti allegedly arranged $350,000 for the murders, to which Ryan replied, “We have a 4-man team ready.”

The three men are indicted on one count of conspiracy to use interstate commerce to commit murder for hire.

Officials said Zindashti is believed to be residing in Iran, while Ryan and Pearson are currently in prison in Canada on separate charges.

The Treasury Department said Zindashti is a drug trafficker and the leader of a network that operates at the request of Iranian intelligence services.

The Treasury Department said the two men it sought to recruit in the uncovered murder-for-hire plot were members of the Canadian Hells Angels Outlaw motorcycle group and had a lengthy criminal history of firearms offenses and drug trafficking.

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