Iranian intelligence operatives tried to abduct and kill Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad, according to US Justice Department


The US Treasury has sanctioned the Iran-based technology company Arvan Cloud, two of its senior employees, and a UAE-based affiliated company over the Iranian regime’s censorship of the Internet.

Arvan Cloud works with the Information and Communications Technology Ministry in the development of the National Information Network, seeking to insulate Iran’s system from the global Internet. The company also is close to Iran’s Intelligence and Security Ministry, and its executives are tied to senior regime officials.

Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson said:

Free and unrestricted access to information is a fundamental right of all peoples, including in Iran.

The United States is committed to holding accountable those who seek to undermine freedom of expression and suppress dissent, and to call out regimes who deny their citizens this right.

ORIGINAL ENTRY, JUNE 1: The US has sanctioned members and affiliates of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps over overseas assassination plots targeting former US government officials, dual US-Iran nationals, and Iranian dissidents.

The Treasury designated three individuals based in Iran and Turkey; a company affiliated with the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards branch for operations outside Iran; and two senior officials of Guards’ Intelligence Organization.

Those cited include:

  • Mohammad Reza Ansari, a Quds Force member involved in operations in Syria;
  • Iranian national Shahram Poursafi, for planning and attempting to assassinate two former US Government officials;
  • Hossein Hafez Amini, a dual Turkish-Iranian national based in Turkey, for using his Turkish-based airline Rey Havacilik Ithalat Ihracat Sanayi Ve to assist the Quds Force’s covert operations, including kidnapping and assassination plots targeting Iranian dissidents.
  • Rouhallah Bazghandi, the former chief of the IRGC Intelligence Organization’s counterespionage department;
  • Reza Seraj, the head of the Intelligence Organization’s chief, .

Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson said in a statement:

The United States remains focused on disrupting plots by the IRGC and its Qods Force, both of which have engaged in numerous assassination attempts and other acts of violence and intimidation against those they deem enemies of the Iranian regime.

We will continue to expose and disrupt these terrorist activities and efforts to silence opposing voices, particularly those who advocate for respect for the universal human rights and freedoms of the Iranian people.

The IRGC has carried out a series of abductions of Iranian nationals in recent years.

Ruhollah Zam, the editor of the Telegram channel Amad News, was lured from Paris to Baghdad and seized by Iranian agents in October 2019. He was executed 14 months later.

Jamshid Sharmahd, a dual German-Iranian national, was kidnapped in the UAE in July 2020. He was sentenced to death in February 2023, and the punishment was upheld by Iran’s Supreme Court in April.

Attempted assassinations and abductions have included plots against Israeli citizens and the exiled Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad.

The US sanctioned four Iranian officials in September 2021 over the plan to seize Alinejad in New York and take her to Tehran. A California woman was given a four-year sentence in April for assisting the plotters.