Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.
Today’s indictment exposes a dangerous menace to national security – a double threat posed by a vicious transnational crime group operating from what it thought was the safe haven of a rogue nation.
That rogue nation is the Islamic Republic of Iran, an all-too-familiar, repeat violator of human rights.
This case began with our investigation of Iran’s efforts to project power and extend its tentacles of oppression onto American shores – through the targeting of an Iranian-American journalist who has stood up to the brutal regime, shining a light on Iran’s abuse of human rights and women’s rights.
But this time, it was a newer actor who brought the campaign of violence into America: an Eastern European criminal organization made up of self-described “Oğru,” or thieves, who engaged in extortion, kidnapping, and – in this case – murder-for-hire.
The charges unsealed today show how organized crime, in pursuit of profits and operating from a rogue nation, can pose a grave threat to our national security and to the freedoms that we hold dear.
Increasingly, we are seeing national security and criminal threats blend, as rogue nations and criminal organizations make common cause and share capabilities. From ransomware groups targeting critical infrastructure to facilitators of sanctions evasion, these criminal actors embolden our enemies and threaten our national security.
All too often, they seek refuge in countries they believe will protect and empower them – in this case, Iran.
While they may think they are out of reach, our agents and prosecutors are uniquely equipped to combat this double threat with both law enforcement and national security tools.
This case also highlights the evolving threat and increasingly brazen conduct emanating from Iran.
I have spoken before about the threat Iran poses to our homeland through its networks and proxies.
- In the last year, we have charged members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with a plot to murder the former U.S. National Security Advisor;
- We’ve indicted Iranian hackers for targeting utility companies and other critical U.S. infrastructure;
- And we’ve called out Iran for a destructive cyberattack that crippled a partner government’s computer networks.
We will not tolerate this belligerent and criminal conduct. Instead, we will hold accountable those who would bring Iran’s campaign of violence to our shores. We will hold accountable those who seek to silence voices for human rights and women’s rights.
The charges announced today expose a dangerous – and ultimately thwarted – plot to export violent oppression to America. But today, we have demonstrated the strength and the reach of the Department of Justice and the rule of law.
Today’s actions show that the United States will zealously protect freedom and hold accountable all those who would use violence to undermine it.