May 30, 2024 | Flash Brief

Maryland Court Issues Restraining Order Against U.S.-Based Iranian Diplomat

May 30, 2024 | Flash Brief

Maryland Court Issues Restraining Order Against U.S.-Based Iranian Diplomat

Latest Developments

A Maryland court issued a temporary restraining order on May 28 against an employee of Iran’s Interests Section in Washington — the Islamic Republic’s de facto consular office in the United States — after he threatened anti-regime protestors with execution gestures. The offender, Ramezan Soltan-Mohammadi, was seen at a rally in Potomac, Maryland, on May 22 repeatedly drawing his finger across his throat in the direction of protestors who had gathered outside a memorial service for the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Siamak Aram, an Iranian dissident who attended the rally, said Mohammadi directed the death threat at him. “He threatened me with death by moving his hand across his throat,” Aram said. According to Aram’s lawyer, the restraining order prohibits Mohammadi “from making contact, threats, or approaching [Aram’s] place of residence and employment.” The Office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran said it was “concerned to see reports of Iranian regime supporters threatening and attacking peaceful protesters worldwide.”

Expert Analysis

This not something to brush off. The long arm of Iran’s repressive apparatus should not have the freedom to intimidate and harass dissidents and citizens alike who are exercising their first amendment rights on American soil. The State Department should seriously look into this incident and consider significantly limiting Tehran’s diplomatic presence in response.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

“The Islamic Republic’s intimidation tactics extend far beyond Iran’s borders, consistently aiming to silence opposition voices abroad. Whether through orchestrated kidnappings, targeted assassinations, or leveraging diplomatic covers for nefarious purposes, this regime’s systematic efforts to stifle dissent reflect a broader strategy of repression that transcends national boundaries. The lack of substantive consequences has emboldened the regime’s long-standing practice of exploiting its diplomatic presence to further its malign agenda of terrorizing dissidents.” — Janatan Sayeh, FDD Research Analyst

Islamic Republic Loyalists Intimidate Dissidents in UK

On March 29, Iranian operatives stabbed a prominent Iranian journalist in south London. London’s Metropolitan Police identified three suspects who authorities say fled the United Kingdom by air hours after the stabbing. On May 24, Islamic Republic loyalists assaulted a group of anti-regime protestors in London, injuring four. An eyewitness claimed that one of the victims sustained severe spinal injuries. As with the incident in Maryland, the clash took place outside a memorial for Raisi and Amir-Abdollahian. A victim of the attack said the assailants “slapped and punched my face, my body, my legs” and that one of the men verbally threatened to kill her. “This was the hands of the IRGC on UK soil,” she said, referring to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Islamic Republic has a track record of targeting its opponents in the UK. In November 2022, counter-intelligence officers from London’s Metropolitan Police foiled an Iranian plot to assassinate two Iran International anchors. In response, the British Foreign Secretary summoned Iran’s chargé d’affaires and sanctioned eight senior Iranian officials as “part of wider efforts to hold the regime to account over its behavior globally.” In 2023, Iranian journalists working for the BBC’s Persian language service reported receiving death threats from Iranian officials.

Iran-Backed Assassination Plots in the U.S.

Iran has repeatedly backed plots to assassinate its opponents on U.S. soil. In 2021, U.S. prosecutors charged four alleged Iranian intelligence operatives with plotting to kidnap Brooklyn-based Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad. In January 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed that the FBI disrupted a second Iranian plot to assassinate Alinejad. Operatives from the IRGC have also threatened former U.S. government officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, and former Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook.

Biden’s State Department ignores Iranian death plots inside America,” by Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow

DOJ Reveals New Iran-backed Assassination Attempt on Iranian American Journalist,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran Targets Salman Rushdie,” FDD Flash Brief

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Iran Iran Sanctions