Iranians Enlisted Hells Angels Biker To Assassinate Dissident in US, Feds Say

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi (Getty Images)
January 29, 2024

Federal prosecutors on Monday announced the indictment of members of an Iranian network, one of them a Canadian member of a biker gang, on charges that they planned to assassinate a dissident who had fled the country for the United States.

Naji Sharifi Zindashti, an Iranian national, allegedly coordinated with two Canadian nationals—Damion Patrick John Ryan and Adam Richard Pearson—between December 2020 and March 2021 to kill two people then living in Maryland, one of whom had fled the Islamic Republic, the Justice Department said in a release.

Ryan is a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, a biker gang that participates in organized crime, according to the federal indictment.

The department claimed that Zindashti enlisted Ryan to organize a team to kill the two victims. Ryan then told Pearson to recruit others for the job, the latter encouraging them to "shoot [the victim] in the head a lot [to] make example" and telling them to "erase his head from his torso," authorities said.

Zindashti and another Iranian whom prosecutors identified as Co-Conspirator 1 allegedly agreed with Ryan on a $350,000 payment for the conspiracy, as well as $20,000 to cover expenses.

Zindashti and the Canadians face charges of conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, and authorities charged Pearson with possession of a firearm both as a fugitive from justice and as an illegal alien.

While Zindashti lives in Iran, the two Canadians are in jail in their native land for offenses unrelated to their alleged American crime. In addition, the Treasury Department sanctioned Zindashti and his associates so that they can not participate in a transaction that involves an American or occurs in the United States.

The announcement comes a day after President Joe Biden blamed Iranian proxies for a Saturday drone attack in Jordan that killed three American service members. The attack also reportedly wounded at least two dozen American troops.