The United States has imposed sanctions against four members of a network of Iranian regime intelligence operatives.
The action follows the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York’s announcement in July of criminal charges against four Iranians for attempting to kidnap a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and forcibly return her to Iran.
The target of the kidnapping has identified herself as Masih Alinejad, an Iranian American journalist, rights activist, and Iranian regime critic, who, among other activities, hosts a popular television program on the Voice of America.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the kidnapping plot “an egregious violation of fundamental international norms.” He pointed out in a statement that beyond this specific plot, “The United States remains aware of ongoing Iranian interest in targeting other American citizens, including current and former U.S. officials.”
The four designated Iranians are senior Iran-based intelligence official Alireza Shahvaroghi Farahani, who leads a network of intelligence operatives that includes the three other sanctioned individuals: Mahmoud Khazein, Kiya Sadeghi, and Omid Noor. Secretary Blinken noted this network was tasked not only with the kidnapping of the Iranian-American journalist, but also with targeting Iranian dissidents in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.
The four Iranian operatives were designated as acting on behalf of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, or MOIS, a U.S.-sanctioned entity and one of the most feared institutions in Iran. As the U.S. Treasury Department noted in a separate announcement about the sanctions levied against the Iranian intelligence network, “MOIS has played a key role in the Iranian government’s brutal human rights abuse against Iranians,” and “Iranian repression, often carried out at the hands of MOIS, has also stretched beyond Iran’s borders, with a string of similar plots in Europe and elsewhere.”
The designations of the four Iranian operatives mean that any property the men hold in the United States is blocked; no U.S. persons can do business with them; and foreign financial institutions that engage in significant transactions with them are also subject to sanctions.
Secretary of State Blinken said the United States “will not tolerate efforts to intimidate independent journalists or silence their voices. We will hold those responsible to account. And we will not tolerate any attacks on U.S. citizens here or abroad.”